Game 27 Preview: Flyers host struggling Blue Jackets


The Philadelphia Flyers, winners of four in a row, host the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Wells Fargo Center tonight at 7:05 p.m. This is the first of four meetings between the two clubs with the next game in Columbus in just two weeks on Dec. 19. They will also pair off in two games in the month of March. 

The recent surge by the Flyers can be attributed a couple of areas. The uptick in converting power-play goals, a much-improved penalty kill and the young talent of "Ghost", defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.

Winners of five of their last six games, the Flyers have averaged three goals a game, as Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds have led the Orange and Black, scoring 15 points combined.

For the Flyers, Steve Mason will return between the pipes, off of a 23-save performance in the 4-3 Flyers win on Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators. For his career, Mason is 2-2-1 with a 3.04 GAA against his former club.

There will be two familiar faces returning to the lineup tonight for the Flyers off of injury. Both Ryan White and R.J Umberger will be back in the lineup. White has been out since getting injured against Carolina on Nov. 14 and Umberger since Nov. 10, healing from a foot injury.

Columbus is coming to town looking to snap a three-game losing streak after falling to the Florida Panthers, 2-1, in a shootout on Friday night. Led by centerman Ryan Johansen, who has six goals and 13 assists for 19 points, the up-and-down Blue Jackets have climbed to seventh in the Metropolitan division after a truly awful start.

New head coach John Tortorella took over for Todd Richards after an underachieving 0-7 start on Oct. 21. Since then, the Blue Jackets have played some better hockey and have definitely had more accountability under Tortorella.

To attest to that, former Flyer fan favorite Scott Hartnell was a healthy scratch on Friday, stemming from an undisciplined tripping penalty he took Tuesday night against Montreal with less than three minutes to go in the third. The Canadiens scored the game-winner on that power play.

Look for Hartnell to play some inspired hockey tonight versus his old team. If Columbus has any plans on leaving Philly with a win, they will surely need his help on the power play. Columbus has hit the skids with the man advantage, going 0-for-23 in their last nine games.

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (20th, 23rd at home), Blue Jackets (24th, 13th on road)
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (13th, 16th at home), Blue Jackets (18th, 20th on road)
  • Former Flyer netminder Sergei Bobrovsky will likely get the night off, as Curtis McElhinney should get the start in net for Columbus.
  • Transactions: With Umberger and White returning to the lineup, Nick Cousins and Colin McDonald were sent down to the Phantoms

Flyers Projected Lineup

Line 1: Michael Raffl-Claude Giroux-Brayden Schenn
Line 2: Matt Read-Sean Couturier-Wayne Simmonds
Line 3: Chris VandeVelde-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Jakub Voracek
Line 4: R.J Umberger-Scott Laughton-Ryan White

D-Pair 1: Michael Del Zotto-Luke Schennn
D-Pair 2: Nick Schultz-Evgeny Medvedev
D-Pair 3: Shayne Gostisbehere-Brandon Manning
Goalie: Steve Mason

Scratches: Vincent Lecavalier, Mark Streit, Sam Gagner, Radko Gudas

Where to Watch 
TV: CSN Philly 
Radio: 97.5 FM

Mike Watson is a contributing writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @mwats_99.

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