Bill Meltzer: Flyers Gameday: 1/29/15 vs. WPG

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PREVIEW: FLYERS VS. JETS

Playing the third match of a five-game homestand, Craig Berube’s Philadelphia Flyers (20-22-7) host Paul Maurice’s Winnipeg Jets (26-15-8) at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night. Game time is 7:00 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on CSN Philadelphia.

This is the second and final meeting of the season between the inter-conference teams and the lone game in Philadelphia.

On Dec. 21, the Flyers captured a 4-3 overtime win in Winnipeg.

The Flyers remain at home through next week. They will host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and then have four idle nights before hosting the New York Islanders on Feb. 5.

For Winnipeg, this game is second half a two-game Pennsylvania road trip. Playing an alternating-day schedule, the team will return home after Thursday’s game and host the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. Flyers outlook

The Flyers enter this game coming off a 4-3 shootout win over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night. The victory improved the Flyers’ home record this season to 13-7-3.

On Tuesday night, Philadelphia found itself trailing by a pair of goals just 5:50 into the first period. Berube removed starting goaltender Ray Emery after yielding twice on four shots and inserted Steve Mason into the game.

Mason battled valiantly and stopped 22 of 23 shots in regulation and overtime before going 3-for-3 in the shootout. Wayne Simmonds’ mid-first period power play rebound goal trimmed the Flyers deficit to 2-1. Mark Streit and Claude Giroux assisted on the goal. Philadelphia dominated the second period but trailed until R.J. Umberger roofed a shot over Smith to tie the game. Michael Del Zotto gave the Flyers a short-lived 3-2 lead on a line rush goal elevated over Smith from the left circle after a lead pass by Jakub Voracek.

After a scoreless third period and overtime, Voracek and Giroux were unable to score on their shootout attempts. Third shooter Simmonds converted his attempt to earn a bonus point for Philly.

In 23 home games this season, the Flyers have outscored opponents by a 67-57 margin (2.91 GFA, 2.48 GAA). They are 24-for-85 (28.2 percent, 2nd in NHL) on home power plays and 63-for-78 (80.8 percent, 23rd in NHL) on home penalty kills for a home special teams index of 109.0 (combined power play and penalty kill). Detroit paces the NHL at home with a mind-boggling 116.7 special teams index (87.8% PK + top-ranked 28.9% PP) but the Flyers’ number is north of the 105.0 benchmark that many teams use.

By way of comparison, in 26 road games this season, the Flyers have been outscored by a 87-65 (2.50 GFA, 3.35 GAA) margin. They have an atrocious road special teams index of 87.3 due to their 69 percent penalty kill in away games.

Entering this game, Voracek leads the NHL Art Ross Trophy race with 57 points and tops the NHL with 40 assists. The Czech forward leads the Flyers with 17 goals, tied with Wayne Simmonds and one more than Giroux.

Giroux is tied for second in the NHL with 36 assists and is fourth in points with 52. His 25 power play points (nine power play goals, 16 assists) lead the NHL, one point ahead of St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

Mark Streit is tied for fourth among NHL defensemen this season with 35 overall scoring points (seven goals, 28 assists). The veteran Swiss player is 2nd among NHL defensemen with 20 power play points.

Ten of Simmonds’ 17 goals this season have been scored on the power play. That places the power forward in a tie with the Islanders’ John Tavares for fourth in the NHL. Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin leads the league with 13 power play goals.

The Flyers have six players with double-digit goals this season. R.J. Umberger is one tally away from becoming the seventh. Eight of his nine goals and 10 of his 13 points for the season to date have come in December and January.

Defenseman Nick Schultz took a maintenance day off from practice on Wednesday. He is expected to play on Thursday.

Defenseman Nicklas Grossmann (right shoulder) participated fully in Wednesday’s practice but is not ready to return to the lineup yet. Rookie center Scott Laughton (suspected concussion) skated on his own Wednesday morning but has not yet practiced with the team.

Defenseman Braydon Coburn (left foot) remains sidelined. Veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen (blood clots) will be on Xarelto for a few more days. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall sounded optimistic on Wednesday that Timonen will be able to play hockey this season. A final decision is expected within the next few days. Timonen and the Flyers have been working with a team of doctors to come up with a plan. Jets outlook

Winnipeg has been the NHL’s best road teams this season, posting a 14-6-5 record. However, the Jets enter this game coming off a 5-3 loss in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Against the Penguins, the Jets trailed 1-0 after the first then took a short-lived 2-1 lead in the second period on goals by Chris Thorburn and Jacob Trouba. With the score tied at 2-2 entering the third period, Adam Lowry put Winnipeg ahead again in the opening minute of the final stanza. The Penguins then struck back to re-take the lead with a pair of power play goals. Pittsburgh added a late empty-netter to seal the 5-3 final. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 25 of 29 shots in a losing cause.

The Jets are currently the only NHL team with seven different players who have tallied double-digit goals on the season. Andrew Ladd (17 goals, 23 points) leads the team in overall scoring with 40 points, while Bryan Little’s 18 goals (38 points) top the team.

Others who have scored double-digit goals include Mathieu Perreault (15 goals, 29 points), All-Star Game selection Dustin Byfuglien (12 goals, 32 points), Blake Wheeler (13 goals, 36 points), Michal Frolik (10 goals, 26 points) and Evander Kane (10 goals, 22 points in 34 games).

On the injury front, defensemen Mark Stuart (lower body) and Grant Clitsome (back surgery) are on the injured reserve list. Key team stat comparisons (NHL overall ranking)

Non-shootout goals per game: Flyers 2.69 (T-17th), Jets 2.74 (15th)

Non-shootout goals against per game: Flyers 2.94 (24th), Jets 2.41 (6th)

Even strength Goals For/Against Ratio: Flyers 0.97 (19th), Jets 1.17 (7th)

Power play efficiency: Flyers 23.4% (4th), Jets 17.2% (20th)

Penalty killing efficiency: Flyers 74.6% (28th), Jets 83.0% (11th)

Faceoff percentage: Flyers 50.8% (13th), Jets 48.2% (5th) Projected lineups (Subject to change, will be updated)

FLYERS

10 Brayden Schenn – 28 Claude Giroux – 93 Jakub Voracek

18 R.J. Umberger – 14 Sean Couturier – 24 Matt Read

51 Petr Straka – 25 Ryan White 17 Wayne Simmonds

76 Chris VandeVelde – 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – 40 Vincent Lecavalier

55 Nick Schultz – 32 Mark Streit

15 Michael Del Zotto – 22 Luke Schenn

26 Carlo Colaiacovo – 47 Andrew MacDonald

35 Steve Mason

[29 Ray Emery]

Scratches: Scott Laughton (upper body, suspected concussion), Braydon Coburn (IR, left foot), Nicklas Grossmann (right shoulder), Zac Rinaldo (suspension), Michael Raffl (flu).

JETS

16 Andrew Ladd – 18 Bryan Little – 26 Blake Wheeler

85 Mathieu Perreault – 55 Mark Scheifele – 67 Michael Frolik

9 Evander Kane – 17 Adam Lowry – 22 Chris Thorburn

15 Matt Halischuk – 19 Jim Slater – 14 Anthony Peluso

63 Ben Chiarot – 33 Dustin Byfuglien

39 Tobias Enström – 44 Zach Bogosian

8 Jacob Trouba – 23 Jay Harrison

31 Ondrej Pavelec / 34 Michael Hutchinson

Scratches: Mark Stuart (IR, lower body), Grant Clitsome (IR, back surgery), T.J. Galiardi (healthy), Adam Pardy (healthy), Paul Postma (healthy).