Flyers make quick stop in Columbus

The Flyers split a home-and-home with the Columbus Blue Jackets in December. (Photo by Amy Irvin/Flyers Faithful)

Wherever you looked following Wednesday's loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Flyers talked about not being ready to play.

"There was no energy the whole game," Claude Giroux said. "We couldn’t get a forecheck. We didn’t make plays, we didn’t have any confidence. I think that is how we were playing at the start of the year."

"We probably got what we deserved tonight," Steve Mason said. "We’re not playing well enough to win hockey games. Again, the third period, we need to be better."

"I thought the whole game wasn't very good," head coach Craig Berube said. "I'm not making excuses but you have to have a lot more energy than that. It's mental, in my opinion, and you've got to get through it."

Ready or not, here come the toughest of games for the Philadelphia Flyers

Less than 24 hours after a loss to the Hurricanes, the Flyers travel to face the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

The Flyers will still likely put Mason in net, despite him starting on Wednesday. Mason picked up a win against the Blue Jackets earlier this season. Ray Emery suffered the loss on Dec. 21 against Columbus, allowing five goals on 28 shots. Despite that, Emery will start in goal tonight.

After a rather lackluster game overall, the Flyers are trying to avoid their sixth loss in eight games.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, are among the hottest teams in hockey. Columbus has won seven straight games and eight of its last 10. Suddenly, they are hot on the heels of the Flyers for third place in the Metropolitan Division, just two points behind the Flyers.

This is because of the efforts from Ryan Johansen, R.J. Umberger, Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson. Johansen has 19 goals and 18 assists on the season to lead the team in goals and points. Dubinsky is second on the team in points with 32 points. 

Atkinson has been one of the surprises of the season. In his third NHL season, he already has career highs in goals, assists and points. With 15 goals, he in on pace for 25 to 30 goals. 

Defenseman James Wisniewski leads a solid Columbus blue line. Wisniewski has 30 points, third on the team. Additionally, Columbus allows 2.8 goals per game.

In the Blue Jackets 6-3 win on Dec. 21, shots by defenseman were the key to scoring. Defenseman David Savard scored in the win and Nikita Nikitin has three assists against the Flyers this season. 

In goal, after facing Curtis McElhinny twice in December, the Flyers finally get to face an old friend. Sergei Bobrovsky will be in goal for Columbus. Despite his injury, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner is 16-11-2 with a 2.55 GAA and .915 save percentage.

Ironically, Mason has almost identical numbers, with a 19-12-5 record and a 2.57 GAA with a .915 save percentage.

The Flyers trip to Columbus is usually the difference in the all-time series. The Flyers hold a 7-3-3 record – with three ties – in the all-time series. But when at home, the Blue Jackets are 3-3-2. 

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (18th, 6th on road), Blue Jackets (13th, 10th at home)
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (6th, 10th on road), Blue Jackets (19th, T-7th at home)
  • The Flyers and Blue Jackets split a home-and-home series in December. The Flyers posted a dramatic third-period comeback in the first game on Dec. 19, winning 5-4 behind two goals by Claude Giroux. The Flyers lost in Columbus two nights later, 6-3. Ryan Johansen and R.J. Umberger each had two goals.
  • Milestone Watch: Wayne Simmonds needs one goal for 100 in his NHL career. Vincent Lecavalier needs seven points for 900 in his career. Matt Read needs six points for 100 in his career. Steve Downie is one assist away from 100 in his career.

Flyers scratches: Erik Gustafsson, Hal Gill, Jake Voracek, Zac Rinaldo

Flyers Projected Lineup

Line 1: Michael Raffl-Claude Giroux-Jake Voracek
Line 2: Scott Hartnell-Brayden Schenn-Wayne Simmonds
Line 3: Matt Read-Sean Couturier-Vincent Lecavalier
Line 4: Steve Downie-Chris VandeVelde-Adam Hall

D-Pair 1: Kimmo Timonen-Braydon Coburn
D-Pair 2: Nick Grossmann-Mark Streit
D-Pair 3: Luke Schenn-Andrej Meszaros

Goalie: Ray Emery

Where to Watch
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic 

Kevin Durso is the lead beat writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.

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