The Philadelphia Flyers are returning home after a win against a division rival, the New York Rangers. It took Kevin Hayes scoring the Flyers’ first shootout goal of the season for the Flyers and a strong Martin Jones performance to do it, but despite blowing a 3-0 lead, they came out with a victory. They take on another Metropolitan Division team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are out of the playoff picture but rank ahead of the Flyers by a solid margin.
The Blue Jackets are on the second half of a back-to-back with the first game coming against the Boston Bruins. It resulted in a 3-2 overtime loss, so the Flyers can expect an even hungrier team to show up. They hold a 32-32-6 record on the season, which sits them third-worst in the Metro, but they’re separated from the Flyers by 15 points. I think it’s safe to say that the Flyers probably won’t make up that gap. In their last 10 games, the Blue Jackets are 2-5-3.
Their leading scorer is Patrik Laine, the second overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. He has 52 points in 51 games with 25 goals and is on pace for 30 goals and 64 points in 63 games. That would tie his second-highest career total in points, with the highest being in 2017-18 when he scored 44 goals and 70 points in a full 82 game season. If he hadn’t missed time this season, I don’t think it would surprise anyone if he got passed that mark.
Following him up in the points category is former Flyers, Jakub Voracek. He has 51 points in 67 games, but only five of them are goals, while 46 of them are assists.
In the last five games for the Blue Jackets, defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov is the team leader in goals (2) and points (4), while Laine leads in assists with three.
As far as goaltenders go, Elvis Merzlikins was given the start against Boston, and given the dire situation the Blue Jackets goaltending is in at this moment, he will be getting the start again tonight. Merzlikins has a 3.40 goals against average and a .903 save percentage in 48 games played this season.
The Flyers finally scored a shootout goal and won! In all honesty, I didn’t think that I would say that this season. That’s how absolutely horrendous the Flyers are in the post-overtime skills challenge if you weren’t already aware.
Despite beating the Rangers, the Flyers still hold an abysmal record of 22-36-11 for 55 points. It remains the second-worst record in the Metropolitan Division, but the New Jersey Devils are close behind in last.
The team leader in points remains Cam Atkinson, who has 50 points in 69 games. In his last five games, he only has two assists for two total points. In his last 10 games, he has one goal and five points. It hasn’t been the greatest scoring stint for the former Blue Jackets forward.
One player who has been hot as of late is Hayes, who leads the team in assists and points in the last five games. Not to mention, Hayes is the reason the Flyers won in the shootout. He sits eighth on the team in points with 24 in 35 games. In other statistical news, the youngster Owen Tippett scored his first goal in the orange and black against the Rangers. It was his seventh on the season, and hopefully, there are plenty more to come from him.
In net for the Flyers, Carter Hart will be getting a start after a 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has a 3.11 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage on the season.
The Flyers are coming off a huge win, and the Blue Jackets are coming off a tough loss. In the first game of a home and home series, things could get very exciting even though these teams aren’t competing for playoff spots.
Joel Farabee - Morgan Frost- Cam Atkinson
James van Riemsdyk - Kevin Hayes - Owen Tippett
Noah Cates - Scott Laughton - Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom - Nate Thompson - Patrick Brown
Ivan Provorov - Cam York
Travis Sanheim - Rasmus Ristolainen
Keith Yandle - Ronnie Attard
That’s all from me, everybody! Go Flyers!