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At the Rink: Flyers at Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- It would take a significant event Tuesday to take the spotlight off the first appearance in Nationwide Arena of Philadelphia Flyers left wing RJ Umberger since being traded June 23 after six seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Consider it done with the return to the Columbus lineup of Brandon Dubinsky, who makes his regular-season debut following abdominal surgery Oct. 8.

The Blue Jackets went 9-15-2 without Dubinsky but the center is coming back at a good time. Columbus has won three straight and is showing flashes of the hard-nosed style that Dubinsky epitomized last season when the Blue Jackets qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"He's one of leaders for sure on and off the ice," Blue Jackets center Nick Foligno said. "He's a guy who plays the game the right way, hard every game. He really pulls everybody into it. We know the way he plays that he's definitely a guy who charges the group."

Dubinsky had 16 goals and 50 points in 76 games last season, and is viewed inside and outside the locker room as the unofficial captain since coach Todd Richards does not have anyone wearing the 'C.'

"A guy like [Dubinsky] who's signed for the next five years, this is his hockey team," left wing Matt Calvert said.

Calvert and Cam Atkinson will be on a line centered by Dubinsky.

"Whenever I play with them I seem to get a lot more chances and feel more comfortable out there," Calvert said.

Dubinsky was frustrated watching the Blue Jackets struggle in part because of an injury list that still has six players on it.

"You feel helpless when the team's not doing very well," he said. "When the team is doing well and winning games, you don't feel as much a part of it."

Though Dubinsky may overshadow Umberger's return, the Blue Jackets are expected to honor the former Ohio State player with a video tribute in the first period. Umberger is third all-time on the Blue Jackets point list with 250 (120 goals, 130 assists) in 455 games from 2008-14 before being traded for Scott Hartnell.

Umberger, who will play his 700th game Tuesday, has two goals and two assists and a minus-10 rating in 26 games for the Flyers (9-13-4).

"The last two or three [games] have definitely been my best of the year," he said. "My confidence is rising and I'm excited to come here tonight. I have so many great memories in this building."

Umberger maintains a home in the suburban Columbus city of Powell and said he plans to live there after retirement.

"I love Columbus. I love the fans. They've been so good," he said. "This organization, the ownership, everything about it, I owe a lot to my career."

Here are the projected lineups:


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Brayden Schenn - Scott Laughton - Wayne Simmonds

RJ Umberger - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Zac Rinaldo - Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Nicklas Grossmann - Mark Streit

Nick Schultz - Braydon Coburn

Michael Del Zotto - Andrew MacDonald

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: Vincent Lecavalier, Luke Schenn, Carlo Colaiacovo

Injured: Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Ryan White (upper body)


Brian Gibbons - Nick Foligno - Scott Hartnell

Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Jack Skille

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Corey Tropp - Michael Chaput - Jared Boll

Jack JohnsonDavid Savard

Kevin Connauton - James Wisniewski

Jordan Leopold - Dalton Prout

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Tim Erixon, Adam Cracknell, Kerby Rychel

Injured: Nathan Horton (back), Ryan Murray (knee), Cody Goloubef (knee), Fedor Tyutin (knee), Mark Letestu (groin), Artem Anisimov (torn triceps)

Status report: The Flyers will go with the same lineup that won 2-1 at the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. That means Lecavalier will be a healthy scratch for a fourth straight game. "I like the way the four lines are rolling and how we're playing the game right now. I don't see a reason to change the lines right now but it's game to game," Flyers coach Craig Berube said… The return of Dubinsky sends Rychel to bench after he had three assists in his first four NHL games.

Who's hot: The Flyers were 5-for-5 in penalty killing against the Kings Kings on Saturday… Bobrovsky was 3-0-0 with a 1.62 goals against average and .956 save percentage last week.

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