Better With Popcorn

Flyers Continue Playoff Hunt Against Crashing Jets

The Matchup

Philadelphia Flyers (17-17-3) at Winnipeg Jets (18-19-2)
MTS Centre — Winnipeg, MB, Canada
3:00 pm -- Comcast Sportsnet and 93.3 FM WMMR

Setting the Stage

The Flyers are winners of four straight and their next four games will continue to be the most important stretch of the season for them. It all starts with Winnipeg, who is currently one point ahead of Philadelphia in the standings while having played two more games than the Flyers.

This is the third and final matchup between the two teams with the Flyers having won both games. On February 12, the Flyers won 3-2 in Winnipeg and then took the next game at home, a 5-3 win on February 23.

Winnipeg is on a five-game losing streak and are on their way to falling out of the playoff race. This is a really good opportunity for the Flyers to expand their streak to five games and inch even closer to a playoff spot.

Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen is a game-time decision today. He suffered a lower body injury in the third period on Thursday. General manager Paul Holmgren is confident Timonen will play.

“Kimmo hates not playing, so I feel pretty good about his chances of playing tomorrow,” Holmgren said.

What to Expect

This is a hungry Flyers team now. Though decimated with injuries they're continuing to win games and battle for the duration of the season. Expect much of the same from their previous efforts with the heavy forechecking and constant pressure on the opposing goalie.

Sean Couturier has been playing some fantastic hockey during the winning streak. He's registered a point in each of the last four games (1 goal, 4 assists), and snapped his 27-game scoring drought on Wednesday against Montreal.

Jets captain Andrew Ladd is their leader in points with 33, assists with 19 and tied with Blake Wheeler for the lead in goals with 14. Wheeler's 28 points are the second highest on the Jets. Ladd has two goals against the Flyers this seasons and has 10 goals and 13 points in 18 career games against the Flyers.

The Masked Men

Ilya Bryzgalov will make his 22nd straight start and 38th start of the season for the Flyers. He's responsible for all 17 of the Flyers' wins, the only goaltender in the NHL to do so this season. He's 5-1-1 against the 'Peg all-time with a 2.69 GAA and .900 save percentage.

Ondrej Pavelec will get the start against the Flyers. Pavelec is 5-3-1 against the Flyers all time but his numbers aren't that good, owning an ugly 3.65 GAA and .898 save percentage against Philadelphia. 

Keys to the Game

1. Stay Hot. The Flyers are on a four-game winning streak and it comes at the most opportune time. It's simple: just keep winning and let the rest handle itself. They can only focus on that because that's the only thing they control at this point in the season. Their next four games are very winnable: WIN, NYI, OTT, BUF.

2. Ladd. Ladd is a very good player in general, but he seems to always be out there when he plays against the Flyers. One of the game's more underrated players, Ladd is just a good scorer who can find the net. Expect him to be on the scoresheet tonight, but how often is up to the Flyers. It'll be a tough job to limit him... a job that sounds like it has Couturier's name written on it.

3. Attack the Net. Pavelec is struggling right now, and he struggles against the Flyers. It's simple: just pepper him with shots, be relentless on the rebounds and the bounces will go their way. The Flyers have scored five goals in each of their last three games, and against better goaltenders.

Quotable

“What I really liked was the work ethic against Toronto. It was a hard-working win and it started with the beginning of the game and went to the end of the game and guys played smart and they’ve been sitting there waiting for us. A really good, road win and team win.” -- Peter Laviolette

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