Following last nights disappointing loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Philadelphia Flyers will travel to Ohio tonight to take on the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets. Game time is 7pm and the game will be televised on CSN Philadelphia.
The Flyers have been letting winnable games slip away lately. They lost to the Islanders on Monday after going into the third period with a 3-1 lead and they lost to the Hurricanes last night in a game that was tied 2-2 with 17 minutes to play. When you also consider the fact that they have had to come from behind to win a lot of games recently, the problem with this team becomes apparent. They do not play hard for a full 60 minutes. They are a different team every period. To beat the Blue Jackets, they will need a solid effort for three full periods.
The Blue Jackets are the hottest team in the NHL. They have won seven games in a row and are 8-2 in their last 10 games. Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky is 6-0 since coming back from injury and is 11-3 in his last 14 starts. The Blue Jackets are also getting contribuions from their young core players. Top line center Ryan Johansen, the 4th overall pick in 2010, is only 21 years old but he leads the Blue Jackets with 19 goals and 37 points. Rookie defenseman Ryan Murray, the 2nd overall pick in 2012, has only put up 16 points but he also logs over 20 minutes a game.
-Ray Emery will start for the Flyers. This season Emery is 6-8-1 with a .901 SV% and a .285 GAA. Emery has looked sharp in past few outings and is 2-1-1 in his last four starts (He was also credited with a win for the Flyers comeback last Saturday in which he played 26 minutes and saw 5 shots). Emery will need to be sharp against a potent CBJ team. Unfortunately, this also means that Steve Mason will not get to face his former team in their building during the regular season.
-Wayne Simmonds has arguably been the Flyers best player over the past month. Simmonds has 23 points in his last 18 games and is the team’s leading scorer. Look for Simmonds to once again spark his line and the power play.
-Craig Berube has not announced his lineup yet, but do not be surprised if there are a few changes. The Hurricanes exposed the lack of speed in the Flyers line up. To me, playing Erik Gustafsson in place of Nicklas Grossmann would do wonders for this team. However, I’m not sure Berube sees it the way I do. One of VandeVelde, Rosehill, or Downie will sit as well.
-After this game, the Philadelphia Flyers play a plethora of difficult, non-divisional games before the Olympic break. They will play the Bruins, Red Wings, and Avalanche at home and face the Ducks, Kings, and Sharks on the road. Tonight’s game is no pushover, so it is safe to say that the next seven games will tell us a lot about this team.