The Winnipeg Jets return after a short, one-game road trip in which they stymied the Ottawa Senators with a 1-0 win Saturday afternoon as part of CBC's Hockey Day in Canada coverage. Tonight they will skate against a Philadelphia Flyers' team that has struggled stringing wins together so far this year.
The Flyers will be the tired team in this evening's contest after getting clobbered by the Toronto Maple Leafs by a final score of 5-2. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was pulled midway through the second period after allowing four goals on fourteen shots. It also seems as though Jets' fans won't be getting another look at Sean Couturier as the Flyers' sophomore forward is out of the Flyers' line-up with the flu.
Speaking of the flu, Ondrej Pavelec's status is still up in the air as he has been battling a bug of his own since last Friday. Al Montoya turned away each of the Senators' thirty-three shots to record his first shutout of the season and there's a good chance he gets the call again tonight as Pavelec couldn't digest food until sometime on Sunday. The good news for the Jets' is that Claude Noel has confirmed Dustin Byfuglien's return to the team for the first time in almost two weeks, as he's worked his way back from a lower-body injury.
The question to ponder is which of Grant Clitsome, Paul Postma or Zach Redmond will be pulled from the blue-line upon Buff's return.
Ed Note: Looks like Al Montoya will get the start and Grant Clitsome will be making his way to the press box.
Keys to the Game:
- Feed Big Buff: Byfuglien came into the 2013 season playing some sound hockey, and at one point led the team in both TOI and points. If he's back to 100%, Claude Noel should ride his stallion hard as he's arguably been one of the best Jets thus far.
- The Big Cubano: It's very likely that Al Montoya will get his second consecutive start as Ondrej Pavelec is still suffering from flu-like symptoms. If he can pick up where he left off with his shutout performance on Saturday, the Jets will be in good hands.
- Raising Kane: Though he started off the season scoring three goals in his first five games, Evander Kane's goal production has slowed considerably since then. While the ebb and flow of regular season play is to be expected, the Jets still need their 30-goal scorer to carry the load offensively if they want to stack some wins together.
Philosophic netminding: Converse to Winnipeg's latest performance, Ilya Bryzgalov was pulled from Philadelphia's 4-1 loss last night after allowing four goals through a period and a half. But despite recent struggles, Bryz has been quite good this year. Expect Peter Laviolette to go back to his number one tonight.
Read-ing the play: If you thought Matt Read would be the Flyers' top goal scorer through the first quarter of the season, a large chunk of hockey fans would have called you crazy. For a team in the bottom echelon of team scoring, Read and his teammates will have to be better than their 2.42 goals per game dictate.
Win the face-off battle: The Flyers have been one of the NHL's worst in face-offs this year, posting a team percentage of 47.7%. If they hope to beat Winnipeg, it will start with puck ownership and face-off wins.
Player to boo mercilessly:
Ilya Bryzgalov. Come on, as if this was ever an option.
Philadelphia 3 - F