Game 15 Preview: Flyers return to the ice as Columbus comes to town


Flyers defenseman Mark Streit. Photo courtesy of Kate Frese.

The Philadelphia Flyers will finally return to action tonight as they welcome Scott Hartnell and the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Wells Fargo Center for a Metropolitan Division clash. This is the first game for the Flyers in six days. Game time is 7:00.

This is the first of five meetings between the division rivals and first of three in Philadelphia. The teams will meet here again on November 22 before playing the next two games in Columbus on December 9 and February 13. The final game will be back in Philadelphia on December 17.

Last season, Columbus got the better of the Flyers, winning three of the four meetings. Columbus won both games at home and split at the Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers lone win in Philadelphia was a remarkable third period comeback highlighted by Claude Giroux's no look, falling down backwards shot.

The Flyers (7-5-2) have won three in row after last Saturday's 4-3 win against Colorado. The big concern heading into tonight is rust. A six-day layoff could present a problem for the Flyers as they search for their fourth win in a row. The Flyers will need to find their skating legs early.

Jakub Voracek and Giroux continue to lead the offensive charge. Voracek, six goals and 16 assists, is currently tied for second in the league with 22 points. Giroux, four goals and 14 assists, is currently tied for eighth in the league with 18 points.

Brayden Schenn has also picked up his game of late. The younger Schenn has points in his last three games and four of the last five.

Steve Mason has also looked better of late. Mason has been the winning goaltender in all three games during the current streak and played well enough to win the game in Florida against the Panthers just prior.

Mason enters tonight at 3-4-1 with a 2.90 GAA and .913 save percentage. He figures get the start tonight in net.

Columbus (4-10-1) comes into tonight reeling. Since starting the season 4-2-0, the Jackets are winless in their last nine games going 0-8-1 during that stretch. The Blue Jackets have been absolutely crippled by injuries. They will once again be without eight regulars, including starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, for tonight's contest.

Columbus is led offensively by Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno. Johansen has six goals and 10 assists on the season. Foligno trails just one point behind with seven goals and eight assists.

Tonight will also mark the return of former Flyer Scott Hartnell. Hartnell is also off to a good start for his new team. The winger has five goals and nine assists. His 14 points are good for third on the team. 

Curtis McElhinney has shouldered the load in goal with Bobrovsky out. He figures to get the start again tonight. So far McElhinney is 0-5-1 with a 3.76 goals against average and a .887 save percentage.

Game Notes

Power play: Flyers 22.4% (8th), Blue Jackets 21.0% (T-10rd)

Penalty Kill: Flyers 80.0% (T-15th), Blue Jackets 77.2% (23rd)

Jakub Voracek has a point in eight consecutive games, the longest streak of his career.

Defenseman Mark Streit's 10 points has him tied for 14th among all NHL blueliners.

Projected Flyers Lineup (subject to change)

Scratches: Andrew MacDonald, Blair Jones, Luke Schenn, Michael Raffl

Line 1: Wayne Simmonds-Claude Giroux-Jake Voracek
Line 2: Brayden Schenn-Sean Couturier-Matt Read
Line 3: R.J. Umberger-Vincent Lecavalier-Jason Akeson
Line 4: Zac Rinaldo–Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Chris Vandevelde

D-Pair 1: Nick Grossmann-Mark Streit
D-Pair 2: Michael Del Zotto-Nick Schultz
D-Pair 3: Carlo Colaiacovo-Braydon Coburn

Goalie: Steve Mason

Where to Watch
Radio: 93.3 WMMR

Bill Minchin is a contributing writer for  Follow Bill on Twitter @wtfd103074

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