By a count, the Flyers have been on the road for 11 days. They own a 9-13-4 record for 22 points and are in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division.
They also come in having stopped their losing skid and earned a tough two points against the Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings in their last outing, and sit just six points out of the final playoff position.
And while the next game is the road trip finale, the Flyers enter a crucial stretch where they play six straight games against the Eastern Conference and three straight against division opponents beginning Tuesday night in Columbus.
“I think in the last 2-3 games we’ve been trending in the right direction. It was a big win in LA and now before we go home for a few, two points will be huge for us," said RJ Umberger following practice on Monday in Columbus.
Those two points would give the Flyers five points during this five-game road trip, perhaps more importantly it would be five out of a possible six points in the last three games.
“I don’t think about it. I think about one game at a time and Columbus tomorrow,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “I know where we stand and I know where we’re at. I know we’re playing a team tomorrow that we have to really put our best foot forward against.”
|WATCH: Highlights of Flyers practice in Columbus and head coach Craig Berube's interview... |
The task won’t be any easy one. They meet a Blue Jackets team that has won three straight games and are experiencing a turnaround in their season, after dropping six in-a-row prior to their recent win streak.
“They’re an aggressive hockey team. They work extremely hard. They’re strong in net and they’re going to give you a tough game,” said Berube. “They’re going to come out hard in this building. Like I said, they’re a good team, they’re an aggressive team and we have to be on our toes early in this game.”
Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who was named on Monday the NHL’s second star of the week, has posted three straight wins for a 1.61 goals-against average and .956 save percentage. Columbus will be getting even more help on offense as Brandon Dubinsky will made his season debut for the Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
Dubinsky posted 16 goals and 50 points in 76 games last season for Columbus, but has missed all 26 games after he had abdominal surgery prior to the start of the season on Oct. 8.
For the Flyers, who did not practice on Sunday after traveling from the West Coast, Monday was a much needed long session on the ice to get their feet back under them again.
“Coming back from out west, the change of time zones and long travel day it’s nice to be back out there and get the legs going again. We still have a day to recover and we’ll be ready for Tuesday,” said Sean Couturier.
BACK IN TOWN
The Flyers trip to Columbus marks a homecoming for as many as four current Flyers - Steve Mason, Nick Schultz, RJ Umberger and Jakub Voracek. For Umberger it will be his first game back at Nationwide Arena since being traded to the Flyers over the summer.
“It was a strange feeling coming here. I drove to the rink. It was a different feeling. It brought back the last six years of memories coming through here. [It was] good to see different people and I’m looking forward to a fun, emotional game tomorrow.”
While he has been back in town twice, Steve Mason could get the call between the pipes for the first time as a member of the Flyers in Columbus. Ray Emery started both games last season for the Flyers, with Mason serving as back up.
“If I can get the start [Tuesday] night it would obviously be a fun night for myself. I played four and a half years here, but I’ve made my home in Philly now so this is just another game on the schedule.”
As for Voracek, he’s had several return trips to Columbus since joining the Flyers in 2011 and just hopes he can have the same success against his former team on Tuesday night. Voracek has a goal and three assists in the two meetings this season and averages over a point per-game against the Blue Jackets, posting 11 points (3g-8a) in seven games.
Puck drop is 7 p.m. on CSN and 97.5 The Fanatic.