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At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Flyers

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- The early story for the Columbus Blue Jackets has been the number of players coming out of the lineup, mostly because of injuries.

Friday against the Philadelphia Flyers they'll get two players back, as defenseman Jack Johnson returns from a three-game suspension and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was activated off injured reserve.

Johnson will play his usual big-minute role while Bobrovsky will serve as the backup to Curtis McElhinney.

"It's big for us, getting a player like Jack back in the lineup," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said after the morning skate. "Leadership, his physical presence, his talent; they're things that will help our hockey team. There's lots of things you miss not having Jack. The way that he plays the game, big and heavy and down low being able to shut down plays."

Johnson hasn't played since Nov. 4 against the Carolina Hurricanes. He has five assists in 12 games and leads the Blue Jackets with an average of ice time of 23:58 per game. The hope is he can have a positive impact on a team looking to snap a nine-game losing streak (0-8-1).

"Game days have been boring for me," Johnson said. "Long days. It was what it was. I couldn't do anything about it. Had to wait for my three games to be over."

Bobrovsky was a participant in some of the morning skate. He has been wearing an extra pad on his catching glove to protect his broken left index finger, but he can't wear the pad during games.

The 2013 Vezina Trophy winner has missed the past seven games sustaining the broken finger during practice. The Blue Jackets are 0-6-1 in his absence, with McElhinney and Anton Forsberg sharing time in net. To make room for Bobrovsky, Forsberg was sent to Springfield of the American Hockey League.

In addition to Bobrovsky's return, forwards Artem Anisimov (concussion) and Matt Calvert (upper-body injury) are getting closer to returning.

"It looks like Anisimov might be ready in the next couple days, Bobrovsky is starting to practice with us more," Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen said prior to the Blue Jackets activating Bobrovsky. "And Calvert looks like he'll be back soon. Starting to get a little healthier for us. Definitely positive for our team. It's nice to see these guys back in the room."

There will be familiar faces on both benches Friday. It will be Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell's first game against the team that traded him to Columbus in June. Also Columbus center Michael Chaput was drafted by Philadelphia in the third round (No. 89) of the 2010 NHL Draft.

There are four former Blue Jackets on the Philadelphia roster, including forward R.J. Umberger, who was acquired by the Flyers in the Hartnell trade.

Umberger, a five-time 20-goal scorer, has one goal in 14 games this season. His first game against his former team could help him jump start his season from an offensive standpoint.

"I'm just trying to be as good as I can every game, add whatever I can," Umberger said. "I think there's more to my game than just scoring. If it comes, that's great. [Friday] would be a great day for it to come."

Philadelphia has won three in a row but it's been five days since its last game, Nov. 8 against the Colorado Avalanche.

"I hate those long breaks, especially when the team is going well," Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said. "You don't want to get away from it. Unfortunately that's what we had to do. I'm sure the first period will be sloppy. We just have to find a way to win the game."

Here are the projected lineups:


Scott Hartnell - Boone Jenner - Cam Atkinson

Brian Gibbons - Ryan Johansen - Nick Foligno

Adam Cracknell - Alexander Wennberg - Corey Tropp

Dana Tyrell - Michael Chaput - Jared Boll

Jack Johnson - Dalton Prout

Tim Erixon - James Wisniewski

Fedor Tyutin - David Savard

Curtis McElhinney

Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratched: Frederic St. Denis

Injured: Artem Anisimov (concussion), Brandon Dubinsky (lower body), Mark Letestu (groin), Matt Calvert (upper body), Jack Skille (undisclosed), Nathan Horton (back), Ryan Murray (knee), Cody Goloubef (knee)


Wayne Simmonds - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

R.J. Umberger - Vincent Lecavalier - Jason Akeson

Brayden Schenn - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Zac Rinaldo - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Chris VandeVelde

Nicklas Grossmann - Mark Streit

Michael Del Zotto - Nick Schultz

Braydon Coburn - Carlo Colaiacovo

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: Blair Jones

Injured: Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Andrew MacDonald (lower body), Michael Raffl (lower body), Luke Schenn (upper body)

Status report: Akeson was moved to the second line during practice earlier this week. He doesn't have a point in 10 games, but has proven in the past that he can be a crafty playmaker. "He's in a different role here, playing with more offensive people," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "I think he's got the capability of passing the puck and making plays to guys that can put the puck in the net. I don't want him to be risky, but I want him to make plays in the offensive zone." … During the morning skate Johnson took shifts with Tyutin and Prout, but he spent a bit more time paired with Prout.

Who's hot: Hartnell has four goals in his past three games. … Voracek has four goals and 11 assists during his eight-game point streak.


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