Game 55 Preview: Flyers head to Columbus for a must win game against the Blue Jackets


The Philadelphia Flyers (23-22-9) are back in action action tonight as they pay a visit to the Columbus Blue Jackets (23-26-3). This is the fourth of five meetings between the two clubs and second of two games in Columbus. The series will wrap up in Philadelphia next Tuesday. Game time is 7:00.

Columbus leads the season series 2-1 so far. The Jackets snapped a ten game losing streak in the first meeting with a 4-3 win in Philadelphia on November 14th. The Flyers would return the favor a week later with a 4-3 win on November 22nd, also in Philly. Columbus then scored a 3-2 overtime victory on December 9th at home.

Tonight marks the start of a four game stretch of must win games if Philadelphia wants to even think of getting into the playoffs. Counting tonight, they play Columbus twice and Buffalo twice over the next week. These are teams below the Flyers in the standings and games in which they cannot leave any points on the table.

The Flyers are coming off a game Tuesday night in which they did just that. Matt Read scored just under a minute into the game and Ray Emery was outstanding but the they could not hold on to a 1-0 lead in the third and ultimately lost 2-1 to the Canadiens in overtime.

Jakub Voracek continues to pace the team in scoring with 59 points. The winger has cooled off considerably of late and has been caught and passed by Patrick Kane for the league scoring lead. He trails Kane by three points heading into tonight's game.

Claude Giroux is second  with 54 points while Wayne Simmonds leads the team with 19 goals. Emery, 9-9-2 with a 3.25 goals against average and a .891 save percentage, figures to get the start again tonight in place of the injured Steve Mason. 

Columbus comes into tonight having not played since dropping a 4-3 decision to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. Former Flyer Scott Hartnell played in his 1000th NHL game in the loss. 

Nick Foligno, 21 goals and 29 assists, and Ryan Johansen, 20 goals and 30 assists, are tied for the team lead in scoring with 50 points each. Foligno's 21 goals are tops for the Jackets as are Johansen's 30 assists. 

With Sergei Bobrovsky on IR with a groin injury,  Curtis McElhinney figures to get the start in goal for Columbus. McElhinney is 7-9-1 on the year with a 2.84 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. Lifetime, he is 3-1-0 against the Flyers. 

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (3rd, 12th on road), Jackets (5th, 4th at home) 
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (28th, 29th on road), Jackets (18th, 23rd at home) 
  • Scott Hartnell will receive a silver stick tonight to commemorate his 1000th NHL game

Flyers scratches: Steve Mason, Braydon Coburn, Zac Rinaldo, Michael Raffl, Carlo Colaiacovo

Flyers Projected Lineup

Line 1:  Brayden Schenn-Claude Giroux-Jake Voracek
Line 2: R. J. Umberger-Scott Laughton-Ryan White
Line 3: Matt Read-Sean Couturier-Wayne Simmonds
Line 4:Chris VandeVeldePierre-Edouard Bellemare-Vincent Lecavalier

D-Pair 1: Nick Schultz-Mark Streit
D-Pair 2: Michael Del Zotto -Luke Schenn
D-Pair 3:Nicklas Grossmann-Andrew MacDonald

Goalie: Ray Emery

Where to Watch
TV: CSN Philly
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic 

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


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