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Flyers try to avenge earlier loss to Blue Jackets

by Adam Kimelman / NHL.com

BLUE JACKETS (6-11-2) at FLYERS (7-9-2)

TV: FS-O, CSN-PH

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers likely will use seven defensemen Saturday against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets.

Defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who sat out the Flyers' 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday because of a lower-body injury sustained Wednesday against the New York Rangers, took part in the morning skate and said he felt well enough that he could play Saturday if needed.

"Feels good," Del Zotto said. "Each day has gotten better and better. Yesterday I went out for a little skate and today it feels better."

Coach Craig Berube said he would make a final decision on the roster after warm-ups.

"I don't know what I'm doing [with the lineup]," Berube said. "Have to see how Del Zotto is tonight. He felt good. Just want to make sure tonight if he's OK. I'll make that decision after warm-ups."

Berube said he isn't worried about overtaxing his forwards if he opts to use 11 Saturday. Two of the regulars on the fourth line, Zac Rinaldo and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, see most of the their time on the penalty kill anyway.

"We got lots of forwards that can handle minutes," Berube said.

The key is getting them to produce in that ice time. In the past nine games the Flyers have 24 goals, with nine of them coming from Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux. They have a total of eight from six players Philadelphia was expecting to chip in lots more -- Brayden Schenn (three goals), Wayne Simmonds (two), Sean Couturier (one), Matt Read (one), Vincent Lecavalier (one), and R.J. Umberger (zero).

And the struggles go beyond just the past nine games. Two of Schenn's three goals in the past nine came in one game; Simmonds has one even-strength goal in 14 games; Couturier and Read each have one goal in 11 games; and Umberger has one goal in 18 games, and zero in his past 11.

"We need to be more balanced scoring for sure," Berube said. "I thought that last game it appeared that way. We got some good shifts out of [Scott] Laughton and Couturier's line offensively. They had some opportunities. We're looking more for that kind of stuff to contribute a little bit more."

Lecavalier is a 13-time 20-goal scorer but has two in 11 games this season, and none in his past seven. He believes it's all about feeling comfortable on the ice and not putting too much pressure on yourself to score.

"You've got to feel good about when you have the puck on your stick and feel comfortable," he said. "Sometimes you get one and you start feeling better after that. Then they start going in."

He played Thursday on a line with Umberger that was centered by Laughton. That line combined for five shots on goal and Lecavalier had an assist.

"We want to produce more," Lecavalier said. "I think last game we got some good opportunities here with [Laughton and Umberger]. When we were on the ice we created some pretty good chances. Go from there. The other guys definitely have to chip in and help the team out offensively."

The Blue Jackets remained mostly off the ice Saturday morning after their 4-3 shootout loss at home to the Boston Bruins on Friday. The only players on the ice were defensemen Tim Erixon and forward Corey Tropp, who were scratched Friday, and goaltender Curtis McElhinney, who was the backup Friday.

Coach Todd Richards said he would go with the same lineup as Friday. That means Sergei Bobrovsky will be back in net after he stopped 38 of 41 shots in regulation and overtime against the Bruins. Richards said he isn't worried about Bobrovsky being tired.

"He's rested and ready to go," Richards said. "He's one of the guys that you don't have to worry about his conditioning. He prepares himself. That's why he does the work during the offseason, that's why he works so hard in season, especially after games. He prepares himself for moments and opportunities like this."

Here are the projected lineups:

BLUE JACKETS

Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Nick Foligno

Scott Hartnell - Artem Anisimov - Cam Atkinson

Matt Calvert - Alexander Wennberg - Jack Skille

Brian Gibbons - Adam Cracknell - Jared Boll

Jack Johnson - Dalton Prout

Kevin Connauton - James Wisniewski

Jordan Leopold - David Savard

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Tim Erixon, Corey Tropp

Injured: Cody Goloubef (knee), Ryan Murray (knee), Fedor Tyutin (knee), Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal surgery), Mark Letestu (groin), Nathan Horton (back)

FLYERS

Brayden Schenn - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Wayne Simmonds

R.J. Umberger - Scott Laughton - Vincent Lecavalier

Zac Rinaldo - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Nicklas Grossmann - Mark Streit

Nick Schultz - Braydon Coburn

Andrew MacDonald - Luke Schenn

Michael Del Zotto

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: Carlo Colaiacovo, Jason Akeson

Injured: Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Michael Raffl (lower body), Chris VandeVelde (lower body)

Status report: Richards said he was happy with how veteran forwards Jack Skille and Matt Calvert played in their first games back from injury. That line, along with rookie center Alexander Wennberg, didn't get on the score sheet but did positive things. "They provided good speed and energy. Jack played big and strong, Matty had that quick, darting speed and I thought Alex showed some poise in being able to hold onto the puck in the offensive zone. Defensively they did a good job there too. ... If Del Zotto can't play Akeson would return to the lineup on the fourth line. ... After Saturday the Flyers play seven of their next eight games, and 15 of the next 20, on the road. "I think when we go on the road for a while I think the big group gets closer together," Giroux said. "We play on the same page. Hopefully after a big win tonight that's what's going to happen."

Who's hot: Johansen has two goals and eight assists in his past six games. Four of the assists came Nov. 14 against the Flyers. ... Voracek enters play Saturday as the League's leading scorer with 27 points in 18 games. In his past 12 games he has five goals and 15 assists.

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