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Flyers at Blue Jackets recap: Points in eight straight, not much else to write home about

The Flyers extended their point streak to eight games thanks to the efforts of their new second line, but what was overall a pretty poor effort ended with them leaving a crucial point against a bottom-dweller on the table in a 4-3 overtime loss.

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers have points in eight straight games following tonight's game. They sit seven points out of a playoff spot, which is to say that they've picked up a tiny bit of ground over this streak. Their realistic odds at making the playoffs are very, very slim, but they exist, and they've improved in the past three weeks or so.

But games like tonight's will just go to show that it's really hard to see this team consistently playing hockey that's going to be good enough to keep them in this race a whole lot longer.

For the second straight game, the Flyers grabbed a lead in the early part of the game and then had to hang on for dear life. They picked up a bit more offensive support this time around -- with Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier being the key contributors on offense -- but that was made that much more necessary by the poor puck movement and consistent defensive breakdowns that we're all too used to at this point, and it was on Ray Emery to keep this team ahead for as long as he was able to (and he was working for, more or less, the entire game).

Ultimately, the ending came as a surprise to no one who was watching. Two third-period goals for Columbus tied up a game that the Flyers had been ahead in. Another breakdown -- it's eerie how similar all of Columbus' goals tonight were -- led to a clincher on a rebound in overtime for the Jackets. And the losing streak fell to two.

It's nice to get a point, I guess. But this was a game in which the Flyers were lucky to get even that one point. And the fact that they were lucky to get that one point against a team as injured and as far down in the standings as this Columbus team is does not bode well for things moving forward.


* First of all: our thoughts and best wishes to the family of Andrew MacDonald, who missed tonight's game due to the death of his grandmother.

* Anyways. Before we get to in-game thoughts, a couple of quick notes on how the team's back-end lineup was set up coming into this one. Earlier today, Braydon Coburn (who has been out for a month and did not play tonight due to a foot injury) was seen alternating in with Nicklas Grossmann and Carlo Colaiacovo, making it sound possible that one of them would be scratched for Coburn. Then, before the game, it was announced that MacDonald would miss tonight's game. Then, Sam Carchidi of the Inquirer said that had MacDonald been in the lineup tonight, Nick Schultz -- with whom the Flyers are apparently in negotiations for a long-term contract extension -- would have been scratched. I know the Flyers are unpredictable with how they handle their defensemen, but this is a little ridiculous.

* Unsurprisingly, the Flyers' best line was the one responsible for both of its even strength goals on the evening. Matt Read has points in three straight games for the first time all season, and his dish today that sprung Wayne Simmonds on a breakaway was a nice feed from the wall in the neutral zone. He's definitely looked better lately and it's been great to see him apparently back at full strength. And as for Simmonds himself, he (with two goals) has definitely added a nice kick of offense to the Read/Couturier line with the aforementioned goals and an assist on Sean Couturier's tally. Have to imagine that group get a few more games together. (We'll ignore that Read also fell down in the defensive zone which helped Columbus connect on their first goal. Baby steps.)

* Ray Emery probably deserved a better fate than the one he was handed tonight, and his goaltending in this past week is the best that he's been doing in months. All four Columbus goals involved guys being left alone right in front of the net, and he made a number of outstanding saves to keep the Flyers ahead or tied earlier on in the game. He's done his part to keep this Flyers team afloat without Steve Mason.

* Speaking of Steve Mason, I saw at least one guy in the stands with a Blue Jackets Steve Mason jersey. Is that weird? I feel like it is.

* Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek went without an even-strength point again, and it's hard not to think something's been off with them lately. Brayden Schenn has been getting a lot of heat for not doing enough to help them and supplement their talents, and while I don't think he was a big problem tonight (Schenn led the Flyers in even-strength possession in this game), it does seem like he's been struggling a bit in the offensive zone with the puck on his stick lately, and that this recent run with him on the top line hasn't gone as well as the first one did. Have to think Michael Raffl will get his spot on the top line back whenever his "small bout of pneumonia" is done with.

* The "fourth line" of Lecavalier, Bellemare, and VandeVelde, which has -- somehow -- been driving this team through its current point streak, was very quiet tonight other than a penalty drawn by Lecavalier late in the game, and got totally pasted in terms of even-strength possession. Hey, your stars aren't gonna shine bright EVERY night, am I right?

* Refs let a lot go on both sides of the ice tonight. Not much time for the Flyers to show off their recently-improved penalty kill. (Which we're very OK with!)

* Brandon Dubinsky is still the worst.

* Scott Hartnell, who played in his 1,000th regular-season game on Monday, was honored with a ceremony pre-game. Really cool that he was able to do that with his old Flyers teammates around. You can see video of it here, via the Blue Jackets.

* The Blue Jackets have bad opinions about hot dogs.

* Finally, what exactly was Craig Berube wearing tonight? As friend of the blog Flyers Goal Scored By said on Twitter:


Off to Buffalo on Sunday. Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. Go Flyers.