Game 35 Preview: Columbus Blue Jackets @ Philadelphia Flyers

Image courtesy of bleacherreport.com

Columbus Blue Jackets (14-16-4) @ Philadelphia Flyers (15-15-4), 7:00pm, CSN-Philly/FS-O

The Philadelphia Flyers look for their second straight win and their eighth straight decision at home, as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight, who will look to end a two-game losing streak. Steve Mason and Jakub Voracek take on their former team, as the Orange and Black attempt to earn points in their fourth straight tilt against a team that is suffering from injuries to several key players.

One thing to watch tonight will be Mason’s play against his former club. It’s his first game against the Blue Jackets, so his emotions will most likely be high against the team that drafted him and gave him his first shot in the NHL. This aspect, combined with the other adversity the netminder has been facing recently with his very minor dip in play and save percentage should serve as another test of Mason’s focus and ability to fight through adversity. As for Voracek, he’s already faced his old club and had a three-point night in Philly’s 9-2 decision when the teams last met in November of 2012.

Mason and Voracek’s old squad will come into Philadelphia with a laundry list of injuries. Although Marian Gaborik and James Wisniewski will be back in the lineup on Saturday for the second game of the home-and-home between these teams, neither will be on the ice tonight for Columbus. In addition to these two players the crew of Nathan Horton, Cody Bass, Jared Boll, Derek MacKenzie, Dalton Prout, and former Flyer Sergei Bobrovsky will not suit up this evening for the Blue Jackets. Needless to say, the Flyers should have the advantage especially if the Blue Jackets are without their two top goaltenders.

It is definite Vincent Lecavalier won’t be in the lineup, but it seems as though it is likely Brayden Schenn will play tonight despite the monster charge he took from Tom Wilson in Tuesday’s tilt against the Washington Capitals. Although he didn’t follow the typical protocol a player should follow when it is believed they are concussed, Schenn said he doesn’t believe he has concussions symptoms and just had a stiff neck from the hit. Hopefully the forward can go, as he was arguably the Flyers’ best player in Tuesday’s win over the Washington Capitals before he left the game with his injury.

Schenn is on the team’s second line with Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds, who had one of their best games as a line on Tuesday. A gritty, fore checking performance resulted in several scoring chances and helped the team stay in a game that leaned in their favor due to the major power play they received for the hit on Schenn. Along with the consistent play of the squad’s third line and the offensive production from the newly formed first line of Michael Raffl-Claude Giroux-Voracek, the surging play and resounding cohesion of the second line could be pivotal for the team’s success tonight and going forward.

As for the team’s winning streak, the Flyers can’t win every game at home for the rest of the season, but tonight is another key game at home due to their recent struggles on the road. Due to the fact they’ll be playing the Blue Jackets on Saturday as well, but in Columbus with a pair of their best players returning to action, this a big pair of points for the Orange and Black in a contest against a divisional rival.

RECORDS
Columbus Blue Jackets
Overall: 14-16-4
Road: 6-8-2
Against the Eastern Conference: 10-10-3
Against the Metropolitan Division: 5-5-1

Philadelphia Flyers
Overall: 15-15-4
Home: 9-7-0
Against the Eastern Conference: 12-9-3
Against the Metropolitan Division: 6-4-2

PROJECTED LINEUPS
Columbus Blue Jackets
Nick Foligno – Ryan Johansen – R.J. Umberger
Matt Calvert – Brandon Dubinsky – Cam Atkinson
Boone Jenner – Artem Anisimov – Blake Comeau
Jack Skille – Mark Letestu – Corey Tropp

Jack Johnson – Fedor Tyutin
David Savard – Ryan Murray
Nikita Nikitin – Tim Erixon

Curtis McElhinney
Mike McKenna

Philadelphia Flyers
Michael Raffl – Claude Giroux – Jakub Voracek
Scott Hartnell – Brayden Schenn – Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read – Sean Couturier – Steve Downie
Chris VandeVelde – Adam Hall – Zac Rinaldo

Kimmo Timonen – Braydon Coburn
Mark Streit – Nicklas Grossmann
Luke Schenn – Erik Gustafsson

Steve Mason
Ray Emery

TEAM LEADERS
Columbus Blue Jackets
Goals: Ryan Johansen, 12
Assists: James Wisniewski, 16
Points: Ryan Johansen, 27
Power-Play Points: Ryan Johansen, 10
Plus/Minus: Nick Foligno and Matt Calvert, plus-4
PIMs: Brandon Dubinsky, 66
Average TOI: Jack Johnson, 23:22
GAA: Curtis McElhinney, 2.26
Save Percentage: Curtis McElhinney, .926

Philadelphia Flyers
Goals: Matt Read, 10
Assists: Claude Giroux, 19
Points: Claude Giroux, 26
Power-Play Points: Claude Giroux, 13
Plus/Minus: Erik Gustafsson, plus-5
PIMs: Zac Rinaldo, 88
Average TOI: Braydon Coburn, 22:54
GAA: Steve Mason, 2.34
Save Percentage: Steve Mason, .924

INJURIES
Columbus Blue Jackets
Sergei Bobrovsky – Groin (out, recently returned to skating)
Nathan Horton – Shoulder (hasn’t played all season, expected to play in January)
Marian Gaborik – Knee (out tonight, in Saturday)
James Wisniewski – Upper-body injury (out tonight, in Saturday)
Jared Boll – Torn ankle tendon (three-to-four months)
Cody Bass – Thumb (out)
Derek MacKenzie – Lower-body injury (out)
Dalton Prout – Upper-body injury (two-to-three weeks)

Philadelphia Flyers
Vincent Lecavalier – Back (two-to-three weeks)

FORMER PLAYERS
Former Blue Jackets in Philadelphia’s organization
With Philadelphia: Jakub Voracek, Steve Mason, Chris VandeVelde (Springfield Falcons).
With the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL): Steven Delisle (drafted by Columbus in 2008), Petr Straka (drafted by Columbus in 2010).
With the Greenville Road Warriors (ECHL): NONE

Former Flyers in Columbus’ organization
With Columbus: Sergei Bobrovsky, R.J. Umberger, Craig Hartsburg (Assistant Coach)
With the Springfield Falcons (AHL): Blake Parlett (Greenville Road Warriors), Michael Chaput (drafted by Flyers in 2010).
With the Evansville IceMen (ECHL): Garrett Bartus (Greenville Road Warriors), Josh Beaulieu (Adirondack/Philadelphia Phantoms), Patrick Kennedy (Trenton Titans), Tristan King (Greenville Road Warriors), Matt Schepke (Greenville Road Warriors)