BLUE JACKETS AT FLYERS
THURSDAY, 7 PM
WELLS FARGO CENTER
FINAL: FLYERS 5 | BLUE JACKETS 4
Nick Foligno takes a great feed from Jack Johnson and makes it a 3-0 lead late in the second period.
SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: The Blue Jackets were much improved in the second period and the scoreboard is a reflection of their solid play to this point; Nick Foligno's 10th goal of the season - which came in the dying seconds of the middle frame - staked the Jackets to a 3-0 lead through 40 minutes at the Wells Fargo Center. Jack Skille made it 2-0 early in the second period, but he would leave the game after blocking a hard slap shot from Luke Schenn a few minutes after his third goal of the year. The Blue Jackets were much better in their own zone that period and remained disciplined, not giving the Flyers much room to make plays and took away their time and space in the offensive zone. Offensively, the Blue Jackets have been opportunistic in scoring on a pair of odd-man rushes and then the third goal, set up by a great read by Jack Johnson late in the period. He recognized the situation, carried the puck down low and found Foligno on the door step who shoveled it past Mason. The Blue Jackets have found their grinding, hard-working game in the o-zone so far and they'll need more of it in the final period.
WATCH: Jack Skille's rocket of a slap shot makes it a 2-0 lead for Columbus.
WATCH: Atkinson's quick shot gives the Jackets a 1-0 lead on a shorthanded goal.
FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: Pretty erratic and frantic first period on both sides at the Wells Fargo Center but it's the Blue Jackets who hold a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. The Flyers came out skating and put a ton pressure on the Jackets defense, and as a result, they found themselves with three power play chances in the first period but could not convert. Curtis McElhinney played very well for Columbus in that opening period and made a handul of really strong stops - 14 in total - to keep his team in front in the early going. The Blue Jackets haven't spent much time in the Flyers' zone but their goal was a beauty; Cam Atkinson made a nice play at the Jackets blue line late in a PK shift, then took off on a 2-on-1 with RJ Umberger. Atkinson took one look and ripped it between the pads of Steve Mason and so far, that's the only marker in the hockey game. Keys moving forward for the Blue Jackets: stay disciplined and play their game below the hashmarks.
LISTEN: TODAY'S INSIDE EDGE PODCAST
WATCH: Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards meets with the media after today's morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center.
WATCH: Boone Jenner plays his first career game in Philadelphia tonight and he chats with Bobby Mac about it.
WATCH: RJ Umberger (a one-time Flyer) talks about tonight's game with Bob McElligott.
PRE GAME AUDIO: Jake Voracek | RJ Umberger | Boone Jenner | Todd Richards
UPDATE (11:45 AM): Here's the expected lineup for the Blue Jackets tonight as they take on the Flyers...
Foligno - Johansen - Umberger
Calvert - Dubinsky - Atkinson
Jenner - Anisimov - Comeau
Skille - Letestu - Tropp
Tyutin - Johnson
Murray - Savard
Nikitin - Erixon
UPDATE (10:50 AM): Brayden Schenn, who left the Flyers' last game after taking a hard hit from Washington's Tom Wilson, is expected to be back in the lineup tonight against the Blue Jackets.
UPDATE (10:30 AM): According to reports from the Flyers morning skate, it appears that Steve Mason is tonight's starting goaltender for Philadelphia. It's his first career start against his former team.
MORNING SKATE: The Blue Jackets are in the city of brotherly love for the first of five straight Metropolitan Division games. They're taking on the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night in the first of two meetings in a span of 48 hours; both teams will convene Saturday night at Nationwide Arena, as well. Columbus is slated for an 11:30 a.m. morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center, and we'll have complete coverage for you right here at Game Day Central. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Flyers, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!
Earlier this week, it looked as if both Marian Gaborik and James Wisniewski would return to the lineup Thursday, but both players are now looking at Saturday night to get back in the mix. Neither player made the trip to Philadelphia with the Blue Jackets but they're hopeful to suit up in the second half of this weekend's home-and-home with the Flyers.
There is some positive news between the pipes: Curtis McElhinney got through practice on Wednesday and felt good, and all signs point to him starting Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Sergei Bobrovsky, early in his rehab of a groin injury, skated on his own at the OhioHealth Ice Haus on Wednesday is what's considered a positive first step on the road back.
It's been a while since the Blue Jackets and Flyers
got together for a hockey game. Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, their last memory isn't a good one.
That was November 2011 at the Wells Fargo Center, a game the Flyers controlled from start to finish and the final score serves as supplementary proof: Philadelphia lead 5-0 after the first period and went on to win 9-2, one of the more lopsided games in Blue Jackets history and one that won't go in any scrapbooks if you're from Columbus.
And somehow it seems fitting that their next meeting comes as Metropolitan Division rivals in the first of two games in the next 48 hours; the Blue Jackets and Flyers will face off Thursday at Wells Fargo Center and then Saturday night at Nationwide Arena. There's plenty to look forward to and digest, beginning with two ex-Jackets on the Flyers roster and one of which could very well be one of the main reasons the Flyers have turned their season around after a sluggish start that resulted in a coaching change.
Of course, that would be Steve Mason, the 2009 Calder Trophy winning goaltender with the Blue Jackets who was traded to Philadelphia last spring. Mason has played well so far this season for the Flyers, with a 12-9-4 record and 2.34 goals-against average, which has been plenty good enough to give the offensively-gifted Flyers a chance to win every night.
And then there's Jakub Voracek, who's now in his third season with the Flyers and currently their second leading scorer with 19 points in 34 games.
On the other side, it hasn't been a shabby start whatsoever for RJ Umberger, who's been part of a really solid line for the Blue Jackets and has scored some key goals this season for Columbus.
For as much talk as there's been surrounding the Blue Jackets-Penguins potential rivalry and also with the Rangers, don't sleep on the thought of something developing with the Flyers. They're an abrasive team - much like the Blue Jackets - and they like to get under the opposition's skin. One thing is for sure: it will be interesting to see what happens when they butt heads four or five times a season.
VS. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
SATURDAY, 7 P.M.