Game Preview #35 - Don't Forget, Boys: The Hole Is High-Glove

Paul Bereswill

The Jackets kick off yet another division rivalry with the Flyers that has a bit too much familiarity.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Philadelphia Flyers

December 19, 2013 - 7:00 pm EST
Wells Fargo Center - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Broad Street Hockey
SBN's Blue Jackets vs Flyers coverage

Alrighty, then. After a couple of days off, the Jackets are looking to bounce back after a, how you say, less than fulfilling game against Winnipeg on Monday, and are kicking off a stretch of five straight division games, including two straight against Philly. Conversely, the Flyers are riding high after smoking Washington the other night. But, that's not what we're here to talk about, are we?

It's goalie night!

Well, at least half of it, anyway. Sergei Bobrovsky misses his first chance to stick it to the Flyers, still out nursing his groin. That said, on the other bench there's a guy we know all too well...

Steve Mason.

At first glance, the change of scenery appears to have done him good, as he's sporting a 12-9-4 record in 26 games (25 starts), with a 2.34 gaa and .924 save%. Before you get all huffy, remember, it's only been 25 games. The East hasn't seen a lot of him yet, and I think it's important to note that as Philly gets closer and closer to a playoff spot, the pressure and expectations start to ramp up. And, we all know how that tends to go for Mason.

For the record, in December, Mason has seven games played (six starts), and is toting around a 3.09 gaa and a .894 save%. He's been pulled once, and has given up four goals three times in those six starts. That said, he's 3-1-2 over that span, which speaks to the team in front of him getting it together a bit.

After starting out 1-7-0, the Flyers have actually been getting solid results even if their numbers don't jump off the page. They've gone 13-7-5 since that start, and have jumped up into fourth place in the Metro. That's what makes these two games against them so important: only two points separate the two clubs.

For the Jackets, the injury bug bit again on Monday, with Dalton Prout heading to IR with an ankle injury. We also found out that Jared Boll is gone for basically the balance of the season. James Wisniewski and Marian Gaborik had hoped to play tonight, but neither will; both are hoping to go on Saturday against these same Flyers in Columbus. Derek MacKenzie is out tonight in favor of Jack Skille, and Tim Erixon finally gets another chance to play. Some good injury news: Curtis McElhinney made it through practice this week, and should be good to go tonight in net for the Jackets. Will all respect to Mike McKenna, the longer he was in there, the less confidence I was having in his ability to hold up.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(14-16-4, 32 Points; 7th division, 13th conference)

Nick Foligno Ryan Johansen R.J. Umberger
Matt Calvert Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
Boone Jenner Artem Anisimov Blake Comeau
Jack Skille Mark Letestu Corey Tropp
Fedor Tyutin Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray David Savard
Nikita Nikitin Tim Erixon
Curtis McElhinney
Mike McKenna

Philadelphia Flyers
(15-15-4, 34 Points; 4th division, 9th conference)

Michael Raffl Claude Giroux Jakub Voracek
Scott Hartnell Brayden Schenn Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read Sean Couturier Steve Downie
Chris VandeVelde Adam Hall Zac Rinaldo
Kimmo Timonen Braydon Coburn
Mark Streit Nicklas Grossmann
Luke Schenn Erik Gustafsson
Steve Mason
Ray Emery

Season Series

12/19/13 - Columbus at Philadelphia
12/21/13 - Philadelphia at Columbus
01/23/14 - Philadelphia at Columbus
04/03/14 - Columbus at Philadelphia

Head to Head Stats

Philadelphia Columbus
2.35 (23) GPG 2.53 (16)
2.65 (14) GAPG 2.76 (19)
17.8% (16) PP% 19.1% (11)
82.9% (12) PK% 81.1% (19)
Matt Read, 10 G leader Ryan Johansen, 12
Claude Giroux, 19 A leader James Wisniewski, 16
Claude Giroux, 26 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 27
Zac Rinaldo, 88 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 66
9-7-0 Home/Road 6-8-2
12/17 vs. Washington, W 5-2 Last Game 12/16 vs. Winnipeg, L 3-2
5-3-2 Last 10 5-4-1
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