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Preview: Tortorella returns to Columbus as Flyers take on Blue Jackets

Maybe some magic is still in the air in Ohio for Tortorella.

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NHL: NOV 08 Blues at Flyers

The man that gave the Columbus Blue Jackets their first (and only) playoff series win in franchise history is going to be behind a bench in Nationwide Arena for the first time since his contract was not renewed by the team two years ago. This time, he will be in charge of the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.

Flyers at Blue Jackets

When: 7:00 p.m. EDT
Where: Nationwide Arena
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

It is not just that Tortorella will be returning with a different team and will be standing in a different area in the arena, but it will provide some Blue Jackets fans and players a reminder of what they had and what kind of team they were. Yes, they were still able to make the postseason four consecutive times under his control — largely thanks to Artemi Panarin — but they did it by depending on some goaltending and praying that despite getting outplayed, they earned some points in the end. Huh, that sounds familiar.

Unfortunately, the Flyers do not have a game-breaking talent like Panarin on their roster, so right now, they have earned the 7-3-2 record by beating up on some worse teams and somehow sneaking by with some timely goals and ducking and diving opposing scoring chances to get those victories. They will probably do the exact same tonight, but more the beating bad teams part and not so much the getting outplayed thing.

The Blue Jackets are in a bad spot right now. With a 3-9-0 record they are hanging out with the St. Louis Blues at the very bottom of the league standings and do not have the talent to change their season that much. Sure, Johnny Gaudreau is obviously nice (would be nicer in Philadelphia) but when you have someone named “Boone Jenner” as your top center and the rest of the lineup filled with high-potential-but-not-elite-yet players, then that’s just not a currently good team. Columbus can be a playoff regular in the near future with the young talent they’re bringing up, but just nothing is going right for them right now.

Anyways, the Flyers are hoping to create a winning streak, having won their last two games.

Projected Flyers lineup

Owen Tippett — Kevin Hayes — Travis Konecny
Joel Farabee — Scott Laughton — Wade Allison
Tanner Laczynski — Morgan Frost — Nic Deslauriers
Lukas Sedlak — Noah Cates — Zack MacEwen

Ivan Provorov — Tony DeAngelo
Travis Sanheim — Justin Braun
Nick Seeler — Rasmus Ristolainen

Carter Hart is projected to start in Columbus with Felix Sandstrom serving as the backup.

The Flyers’ lineup should stay relatively the same after beating the Blues by a score of 5-1. Owen Tippett seems to finally be contributing a bit more on that top line and Philadelphia is seeing its depth get in on the action after both Cates and Sedlak were able to get on the board against the Blues.

On the blue line, Ristolainen will probably be down on the bottom pairing for quite some time after Tortorella ripped him a new one earlier this week and the top-four aren’t doing awful at all.

Projected Blue Jackets lineup

Johnny Gaudreau — Boone Jenner — Patrik Laine
Gustav Nyquist — Jack Roslovic — Yegor Chinakhov
Eric Robinson — Cole Sillinger — Kent Johnson
Liam Foudy — Sean Kuraly — Mathieu Olivier

Zach Werenski — Nick Blankenburg
Vladislav Gavrikov — Andrew Peeke
Jake Bean — Erik Gudbranson

Elvis Merzlikins is most likely going to be in between the pipes for the home team.

Sprinkled throughout the lineup, the Blue Jackets have some exciting players to watch, but overall, it is still a team missing anchors and stable forces that can overcome even the worst-played games. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Flyers will take this game lightly, either. The unpredictability of some of the younger players like Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger, and Yegor Chinakhov, is what might end up earning this team the win. They can either be a nothing player; skating on the ice, contributing nothing and just hanging out, or they can suddenly use that earned first-round skill and pop off for a goal or two out of nowhere.

A team that is bad overall still can take advantage of some poor defensive play by the Flyers and all they need is one dude to act like he’s back in junior hockey and make an obscene play.

The Blue Jackets shouldn’t be taken lightly, but we are still talking about a team that is dead last in the league and probably deserves to be there for a while.