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Flyers' Mason to watch Blue Jackets reach milestone

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Unless the teams meet in the playoffs, Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason will have to wait until next season for his first start in Nationwide Arena against his former team.

Mason, traded to the Flyers in April after five seasons with Columbus Blue Jackets, was a victim of the heavy snowfall Tuesday in Philadelphia that forced the postponement of the game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

He was in goal for the rescheduled game Wednesday and lost 3-2. Since Flyers coach Craig Berube has been pretty consistent in not playing his goalies on consecutive nights he opted to go with Ray Emery on Thursday against the Blue Jackets.

"It's the way the weather situation worked out," Mason said. "Had it not snowed I was going to be starting here. The way this year has gone with back-to-backs, and [Emery] has been playing well lately, there's plenty more opportunities for me."

Especially since last week he signed a three-year, $12.3 million contract extension. He said the deal gives him peace of mind and hopefully cements his future with the Flyers (25-20-6) while leaving behind a sometimes rocky tenure with the Blue Jackets.

He won the Calder Trophy in 2009 but last season lost the starting job to former Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who went on to win the Vezina Trophy.

"It's just another opposition building now," Mason said of Nationwide Arena. "I said that the last time I was here. I'm at home in Philadelphia and just happy to be there."

Mason defeated the Blue Jackets 5-4 at Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 19 in his first appearance against his old club and Emery started the rematch two days later in Columbus and lost 6-3. The teams meet again April 3 in Philadelphia to complete the season series.

The Blue Jackets (25-20-4) enter their 1,000th regular-season game on a team-record seven-game winning streak after beating the Los Angeles Kings 5-3 on Tuesday. Columbus is two points behind the Flyers for third in the Metropolitan Division, and would jump ahead of them with a regulation victory; each team would have 56 points but the Blue Jackets have played two fewer games.

"We're looking up at them in the standings so if anything we're the hungrier team, as we should be," Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson said.

Columbus coach Todd Richards plans to use the same lineup if left wing Matt Calvert is healthy. He took a shot in the ankle late in the game against the Kings and did not skate Thursday morning, although Richards said that was a precautionary move.

"We're expecting him to play," Richards said.

If Calvert can't play then Cody Bass would fill in after being recalled from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League on Wednesday.

Bobrovsky will try to continue a streak of his own. He is 8-0-0 in his past eight starts and has won all six games (1.94 goals against average, .937 save percentage) since returning after missing a month with a groin strain.

Columbus goaltender coach Ian Clark said the injury rehab helped get Bobrovsky back on track after a slow start to the season.

"To protect the injury you have to have perfect mechanics," Clark said. "He came out of [rehab] and was feeling really good about his game."

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Scott Hartnell - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Vincent Lecavalier

Steve Downie - Chris VandeVelde - Adam Hall

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn

Mark Streit - Nicklas Grossmann

Luke Schenn - Andrej Meszaros

Ray Emery

Steve Mason

Scratched: Hal Gill, Erik Gustafsson, Jay Rosehill

Injured: Zac Rinaldo (ankle sprain)


Nick Foligno - Ryan Johansen - RJ Umberger

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Boone Jenner - Artem Anisimov - Nathan Horton

Mark Letestu - Derek MacKenzie - Corey Tropp

Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson

Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski

Nikita Nikitin - David Savard

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Dalton Prout, Cody Bass

Injured: Marian Gaborik (broken collarbone), Jared Boll (ankle surgery), Blake Comeau (knee sprain)

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