Flyers-Blue Jackets Preview
At least one of two former Columbus Blue Jackets is certain to
make his return to Nationwide Arena on Saturday night with the
Columbus is hopeful that getting two key players back will help
it recover from a collapse in the opener of this home-and-home
Marian Gaborik and James Wisniewski are set to play for the Blue
Jackets against a Flyers team that features former Columbus stars
Steve Mason and Jakub Voracek.
Columbus (14-17-4) seemed certain to tie Philadelphia (16-15-4)
in the standings and end the Flyers’ seven-game home win streak
Thursday as it took a 3-0 lead into the third period and was up 4-2
with five minutes left. The Blue Jackets allowed three goals over
the remainder of the contest, with Claude Giroux scoring the
equalizer with 3:46 left and adding the winner 2:08 later.
“We’re looking forward to playing these guys again,” Blue
Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson said. “We blew it here tonight and
we’re looking forward to redeeming ourselves.”
Mason faced his former team for the first time, making 25 saves.
He was destined for the loss before Philadelphia’s five-goal
outburst in the final 20 minutes.
”Made this night pretty special,” Mason said. ”It’s a
difficult game for a goaltender to be a part of something like
that, with the goals going in. But there’s nights like these that
come along every so often where your team bails you out.”
It’s uncertain whether Flyers coach Craig Berube will start
Mason or backup Ray Emery. Mason has not been back to Columbus
since he spent nearly five seasons with the club, which traded him
to Philadelphia on April 3. He won the Calder Trophy in 2008-09 by
going 33-20-7 with a career-best 2.29 goals-against average.
That represents the Blue Jackets’ lone season to end in the
playoffs and also featured another emerging rookie in Voracek, who
was fourth on the team with 38 points before he had a career-high
50 for Columbus in 2009-10.
Voracek was traded to the Flyers on June 23, 2011, and this
marks his first game as a visitor in Columbus. He had a goal and
two assists Thursday to extend his point streak to six games (six
goals, four assists).
The Blue Jackets activated Gaborik and Wisniewski off injured
reserve Friday. Gaborik hasn’t played since Nov. 14 due to a knee
injury and Wisniewski has missed the last six contests with an
Columbus will try to slow down the red-hot Giroux, who had two
goals and two assists Thursday to give him 10 points in a five-game
The Flyers are 0-2-2 in their last four on the road.
“Going into Columbus, they’re going to be frustrated, they’re
going to want to play hard and they’re a team that’s pretty
physical so we’ll have to be ready to go,” Giroux said.
The Blue Jackets will likely give Curtis McElhinney a second
straight start. McElhinney, filling in for injured former Flyers
goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, returned Thursday after missing two games
with a lower-body injury.
Philadelphia winger Brayden Schenn was back on the ice after he
left Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Washington after crashing headfirst
into the boards due to a hit from behind by Tom Wilson. The Caps
forward received a 5-minute major and ejection for charging.