Philadelphia Flyers: Sizing up the Columbus Blue Jackets

The Flyers enjoyed playing the Columbus Blue Jackets this season as they outscored and swept them in the season series.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are a team that the Flyers are very familiar with. And are another team they could face during the first round of the playoffs. That would include the Blue Jackets making it past their series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

If the Blue Jackets and Flyers meet up in the first round, that would mean that Philadelphia has almost certainly captured the top seed in the conference. Of course, the higher-seeded teams could win their play-in series and change that. So there are a few different scenarios in which the Flyers could face Columbus.

If that is to happen, Philadelphia has a good season series to go off of. Though, all of the games did feature some lucky bounces and heroic comebacks by the Flyers. That included a huge five-goal comeback back in October.

October 26th: 7-4 Flyers

On the surface, it looks like Philadelphia completely dominated this game. They had seven goals and outshot Columbus 46-26. But looking deeper into things, you’ll see the Flyers had to comeback in the third period. And they did in a big way.

Jakub Voracek grabbed the first goal in this game with a bit under five minutes to go. The lead didn’t last long as Boone Jenner tied it less than three minutes later. Columbus took the lead on the Pierre-Luc Dubois goal early in the second.

That lead would hold until late in the second period. James van Riemsdyk grabbed the first of two power-play goals the Flyers would score. But Jenner would answer immediately with his second of the game to grab the lead back.

Josh Anderson gave Columbus their first multi-goal lead of the game early into the third. It was midway through that period that the wheels began to fall off for the Blue Jackets. The Flyers rattled off five goals in about 10 minutes.

It was Kevin Hayes that would grab the game-winning goal doing what he does best. He picked off a pass and went in on Joonas Korpisalo shorthanded. While the first shot was stopped, Hayes followed up on the rebound.

Michael Raffl iced the game on the empty netter while Travis Konecny ended things with a power-play goal with 14 seconds remaining. It ended the Blue Jackets point streak at six games. They had gone 4-0-2 during that stretch. It was the Flyers’ third win in a row after losing the previous three before that.

The next matchup featured an extremely rare feat for the Flyers. It included a regulation road win nearly 14 years in the making.

November 27th: 3-2 Flyers

So coming into this matchup, it turned out that Philadelphia found it extremely hard to win in Columbus. Their last regulation win there came in 2005. They were 1-6-7 in the last 14 games. So the Blue Jackets had the home-ice advantage.

It was a back and forth game for the first two periods. Nick Foligno put Columbus on the board first. The goal ended a 17-game goal drought. While Tyler Pitlick tied things up late in the first, the Flyers had three power-play opportunities that they could not cash in on. Seth Jones ended giving Columbus another lead with just over 30 seconds remaining in the first.

Scott Laughton, playing in his third game after returning from a broken finger, potted his first goal of the season early in the second period. After missing out on their fourth man-advantage at the start of the period, Claude Giroux‘s wrist shot on their fifth chance beat Korpisalo.

Brian Elliott had to hold on for dear life in the final frame as Columbus threw 15 shots at him. That was equal to their shots through the first two periods. The Flyers were on their heels, hitting Korpisalo with just five shots.

The Flyers’ lack of dominance on the power-play turned out to not bite them in the end. Instead, they had their goaltender to thank for making quite a few big saves to pull the win out.

A few months would pass before the two would see each other again. This time, the Flyers would pull away early despite not playing their best game.

February 18th: 5-1 Flyers

If you look at the shot total, you would wonder how the Flyers dominated this game. But it was a matter of how many shots went in rather than how many they took. Their 15 total shots were the fewest they had in a game this season. It beat the 18 shots they put on net during a game in December.

Two goals in the first 4:30 of the opening period helped Philadelphia despite the low shot total. Hayes, who would turn out to be dominant against Columbus this season, opened the scoring three and a half minutes in. Sean Couturier answered with a goal of his own just over a minute later.

Philippe Myers‘ goal in the second and Konecny’s in the third ended the night for Korpisalo. Matiss Kivlenieks replaced him early in the third. He wasn’t tested much but did give up one goal on the three shots he did see.

Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s 20th of the season came after Myers put the Flyers up 3-0. But that was Columbus could muster despite throwing 29 shots on net. Carter Hart was key in this game, not allowing the Blue Jackets to take advantage of the shot totals.

On the surface, it looks like the Flyers were in charge of this game. It was not their best effort, but they were able to pull it out. The win moved Philadelphia into third place in the Metropolitan Division. It extended the Blue Jackets winless streak to a season-high six games.

After a day off, the two would meet in the second half of a home-and-home. It was yet another game in which Philadelphia had to rally back. And another game where Hayes made it mark count.

February 20th: 4-3 Flyers (OT)

If you looked up clutch in the dictionary, you would find a picture of Hayes waiting for you. At least when it came to playing the Blue Jackets. The forward had seven points against Columbus this season. It’s the most points he has against any team this season. He’s had success against the Blue Jackets before joining the Flyers.

Before his heroics in overtime, the Flyers had to come back from a 2-0 and 3-1 score in this game. Bjorkstrand scored just 41 seconds into the game and on the first shot of the game. Foligno made it 2-0 with a between-the-legs shot from the top of the crease nine minutes in.

Konecny quickly answered that goal as the Flyers tried to regain control. The goal came 23 seconds after Foligno’s goal. It was a bit of a lucky bounce as Travis Sanheim‘s shot bounced off his backside as Vladislav Gavrikov knocked him over.

Stefan Matteau put Columbus back up by two early in the second period. It was his first game since being called up by the Blue Jackets the day before. It was first in the NHL since 2015 which was, coincidentally, also against Philadelphia. He was playing for the Devils at the time.

It was later in the second that the Flyers rattled off two goals in 1:27 to tie the game up. Nicolas-Aube Kubel and Giroux potted the two goals. Despite the two tossing a. total of 23 shots on net in the final frame, this game went to overtime.

This is where Hayes made his mark. With 1:09 left in the extra period, Hayes skated in from the red line and wristed a shot past Elvis Merzlikins. His shot came from just inside the left face-off circle after entering on the ride side.

It was the seventh loss in a row for Columbus who was 0-3-4 in those seven games.

While the Flyers did sweep the season series, it wasn’t easy by any means. They allowed Columbus to take multiple leads, forcing them to make comebacks in all but one of the wins. Getting behind on a. team like that won’t bode well in the playoffs.

Especially when they are getting some top-end talent back. Jones, Cam Atkinson, Anderson, Bjorkstrand, and Ryan Murray will all be returning once the playoffs begin. Despite losing Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky last offseason, Columbus has managed to stay afloat in the Metro.

They could pose a serious threat if they can catch the Maple Leafs off guard during the play-in round. And if they do, they have a chance to take on the Flyers in the official first round.

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