Blue Jackets-Flyers Preview

Steve Mason is starting to play nearly as effectively as he did

when he burst onto the scene with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Mason appears likely to start Thursday night as his Philadelphia

Flyers look for an eighth straight win at the Wells Fargo Center in

the opener of this home-and-home set against the Blue Jackets.

The Flyers No. 1 goalie is 12-9-4 with a 2.34 goals-against

average this season, his best GAA since he went 33-20-7 with a 2.29

mark as a rookie with Columbus in 2008-09 when he captured the

Calder Trophy.

Coach Craig Berube has not officially announced whether Mason

will start Thursday or Saturday’s rematch in Columbus, which would

mark the goalie’s first game as a visitor at Nationwide Arena.

Mason – the only netminder to start a postseason game for the

Blue Jackets – struggled in subsequent seasons and was traded to

Philadelphia (15-15-4) on April 3.

“I got nothing to prove to that organization,” Mason said. “They

gave me this chance to come here and start from scratch, have that

fresh opportunity and there’s no hard feelings whatsoever.”

Mason said he planned to have dinner Wednesday with R.J.

Umberger, his roommate during his time with Columbus and one of the

former teammates he never said goodbye to.

“I was traded after practice one day and that same day we were

supposed to be taking off to St. Louis or Nashville,” Mason said.

“I was back at my place, lived in the same building as a couple

other guys and the other guys that lived in the building were

traded also so those were the only ones I got to say goodbye

to.”

This game won’t mark the return of former Flyers goalie Sergei

Bobrovsky since the reigning Vezina Trophy winner is out with a

groin strain. Curtis McElhinney is expected to start in goal for

Columbus (14-16-4) after missing two games with a lower-body

injury.

The Flyers are seeking their first eight-game home win streak

since Dec. 9, 2009-Jan. 10, 2010.

Amazingly, winger Brayden Schenn could play Thursday after he

left Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Washington when he crashed headfirst

into the boards due to a hit from behind by the Capitals’ Tom

Wilson, who received a 5-minute major and ejection for

charging.

Schenn did not practice Wednesday but will take part in

Thursday’s morning skate.

“I feel good, better than I thought,” Schenn said. “A little bit

stiff neck, but as far as the head-wise goes, I feel good and

obviously that’s a good sign.”

The Blue Jackets will have to be wary of another former player

in Jakub Voracek, who has seven points in a five-game run.

Columbus top scorer Ryan Johansen extended his career-best point

streak to nine games in Monday’s 3-2 loss to Winnipeg. He has four

goals and seven assists in his run.

“It was our fifth game in eight days and maybe our legs were a

little heavy,” Johansen said.

The Blue Jackets will be without Derek MacKenzie (lower-body

injury) and Dalton Prout (upper-body). The club is hopeful Marian

Gaborik (knee) and James Wisniewski (upper-body) will return

Saturday.

Columbus has never won in Philadelphia, losing four games and

tying one.