The Winnipeg Jets have a chance to move into the top of the Southeast Division Tuesday night and nab third place overall in the Eastern Conference.
All the Jets have to do is beat the Philadelphia Flyers, something they have done three times this season. The Jets beat the Flyers 9-8 in October in Philadelphia, 6-4 in November at the MTS Centre and 2-1 in a shootout in January back in Philadelphia.
Winnipeg is on a three-game winning streak while the Flyers have been struggling lately. Philadelphia is 3-5-1 so far this month, the first losing month of the season for them.
Jets coach Claude Noel said he is trying to stay away from watching the standings. The Jets have 64 points, one back of Florida for the division lead, and ninth overall in the conference, tied with Toronto who are in eighth because they have a game in hand.
“I’m not getting too involved in third, eighth, whatever. I’m trying to focus on the task,” Noel said Tuesday morning after the Jets pregame skate at the MTS Centre. “Other teams have so many games in hand right now that it’s hard to get a real measuring stick on where we would go.”
Noel may not be watching the standings but some of his players definitely have their sights on topping Florida for the top spot in the Southeastern Division.
“Third spot is definitely gold for us,” said Jets forward Jim Slater.
As for the Flyers, Jets fans will be eager to see if Philadelphia starts goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who fans here love to hate because of disparaging remarks he made about Winnipeg last year when he was with the Phoenix Coyotes. Bryzgalov didn’t start when the Flyers were in town in November, but he offered a lengthy apology for his remarks. That didn’t stop the crowd from booing him when the giant video screen showed him sitting on the Philadelphia bench.
Bryzgalov appeared to slightly injure his hand during the pre-game skate Tuesday and there were reports he was having x-rays. He declined to talk to reporters.
Coach Peter Laviolette wouldn't say if he will start Bryzgalov or Sergei Bobrovsky in goal. He also got a bit testy when asked about the Flyers poor record against the Jets.
“Thanks for bringing that up,” he said flatly. “I don’t think that we’ve had a good start against these guys, especially last time in this building.”
The Flyers will also be integrating two new players, Pavel Kubina, who was acquired from Tampa Bay, and Nicklas Grossman, acquired from the Dallas Stars.
“I think it will take a while, but certainly it adds depth to our back end,” Laviolette said. “When you talk about a playoff run and how much depth you need in those situations it’s nice to add a couple of veteran pieces like that.”