Road-challenged Flyers catch ailing Jets at right time (Mar 21, 2017)
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — If the Philadelphia Flyers were to draw up an opponent as they continue their desperate hunt for a wild-card spot, the Winnipeg Jets would fit the bill.
Their hosts Tuesday night at the MTS Centre are hurting, to say the least, defensively. With Winnipeg regulars Toby Enstrom and Tyler Myers out for the foreseeable future, Jacob Trouba day-to-day with an upper-body injury, Paul Postma and Mark Stuart missing Monday’s practice and Ben Chiarot practicing but hobbled, Jets fans could be forgiven if they thought a few Manitoba Moose defensemen showed up by mistake on Tuesday.
The Jets had already recalled defensemen Julian Melchiori and Brian Strait in the last 10 days — both played in the team’s 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday — and then added Nelson Nogier on an emergency basis on Monday. The 20-year-old, who is in his first pro season, will only remain with the big club if a sixth defenseman is needed against the Flyers.
Jets coach Paul Maurice said the status of Postma, Stuart and Chiarot won’t be known until closer to game time. Trouba wore a non-contact jersey at practice on Monday.
When you factor in that even before most of the injuries, the Jets were already destined to miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six years, had allowed the third-most goals in the NHL and have allowed 13 more goals than they have scored, they should be ripe for the picking for the visitors. The Flyers are going to need all the points they can get as they sit seven points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Jets, meanwhile, are 10 points behind St. Louis in the last wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
The Flyers will have to pick up their road play in a big way, though. With a record of 12-19-4 away from home, only the Carolina Hurricanes have fewer road wins with nine. The Flyers will also visit Minnesota, Columbus and Pittsburgh on this make-or-break road trip.
Philadelphia hopes to build some momentum from its 4-3 overtime victory over Carolina on Sunday, a game the Flyers were 43 seconds away from losing in regulation.
“That was big. We couldn’t let this one get away from us,” winning goalie Steve Mason told the Daily Local News. “That would have been a devastating loss. We were able to crawl back and find a way. But we have an extremely tough task ahead of us. We have to have our best game every night on this road trip in order to keep the season alive here.”
Nogier, a 2014 fourth-round draft pick, was trying not to get too pumped up about the prospect of making his NHL debut against the Flyers. After getting the call from the Jets, he immediately dialed his parents’ number.
“They were really excited. My mom was jokingly laughing that she might come down (from Saskatoon) for practice today and watch,” said the 6-foot-3, 209-pounder. “I said, ‘No, no. Stay home. It’s a day-to-day thing here.'”