Jets prepare to restart engines against Flyers

By Geoff Kirbyson, The Sports Xchange
Patrick Laine and the Winnipeg Jets take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Patrick Laine and the Winnipeg Jets take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- What a difference a couple of weeks can make.

After walloping the St. Louis Blues 8-4 on the road during the last week of November -- a game where sniper Patrik Laine scored five times -- the Jets were blanked 1-0 by the same team thanks to a 26-save performance from Jake Allen.


Laine was held to a single shot on goal, although he did ring one off a post. It's just the second time this season that the Jets have been shut out, following a no-goal performance against the Nashville Predators nearly two months ago.

The Jets' vaunted power play went 0 of 6 with just four shots on goal.

The Jets are hoping to reverse their fortunes Sunday afternoon at Bell MTS Place when they host the Philadelphia Flyers, who laid a 6-2 licking on the Buffalo Sabres in an early game on Saturday. That's the most goals the Flyers have scored since early October and just their third win in their last 10 games.


The Jets are expected to welcome back defenseman Josh Morrissey, who has missed two games with a lower-body injury. The team reassigned defenseman Cam Schilling to the Manitoba Moose on Saturday.

"(Morrissey) will come to the rink as a player," Jets coach Paul Maurice said after practice on Saturday. "Then we'll make sure he feels as good (Sunday) as he does (Saturday) and we'll make that decision."

After a brief injury bug hit the Jets' defensive corps during the last couple of weeks, they're back to full power.

Dustin Byfuglien and Dmitry Kulikov returned to the blue line on Friday and Byfuglien didn't exactly ease his way back in after missing three games with a concussion, leading all players in ice tie with 26 shifts for 28:56. Kulikov, meanwhile, played 11:40 in the third pairing.

Laine is one Winnipeg player who'll be disappointed the season series between the Jets and Blues has wrapped up, with the Jets winning three of them. The 20-year-old produced six goals and one assist in the four games.

"Obviously, I know what I'm expecting from myself, but all that matters is what we think here inside this room and what the coaches and other players are expecting of you," Laine told The Winnipeg Sun. "They're expecting you to play your best hockey every night and give everything that you've got on the ice and if you score, that's great. But just give great effort on the ice. That's what these guys are expecting of you."


You can bet Claude Giroux will be centering the Flyers' top line on Sunday. With No. 1 pivot Sean Couturier out with a lower-body injury, the captain moved over from right wing to center the lead trio on Saturday for the first time in nearly two years. He seemed to know what he was doing, scoring a goal and adding three assists.

"I'd like to tell you it's like riding a bike, but it's not," Giroux said in a postgame scrum. "But it turned out great tonight."

It was also the Flyers' first win for new general manager Chuck Fletcher, who replaced Ron Hextall in late November.

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