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Game #62 Preview: The only place to go is up.

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Can’t get worse than last game, right? (No, that is not a challenge).

Columbus Blue Jackets v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Thursday, February 20, 2020 - 7:00 EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Broad Street Hockey

Philadelphia Flyers (33-20-7, 73 points, 3rd Metro, 7th East)

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Columbus Blue Jackets (30-19-12, 72 points, 4th Metro, 6th East)

After Tuesday’s abysmal performance, the Jackets have a shot at redemption on their home turf against the Philadelphia Flyers. You can check out my recap here, but basically all you need to know about Tuesday night’s game is that it looked like the Flyers played against a team of stagnant traffic cones wearing Blue Jackets jerseys with hockey sticks propped up against them.

Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. But after watching the Flyers score five times in a high-pressure, important game in which the Jackets were statistically favored, it’s tough - if not impossible - to come up with glowing things to say about their performance. The one shining moment was Oliver Bjorkstrand’s power play goal - more of that, please!

I’m going to work under the assumption that Tuesday night’s game was a fluke, and that the Jackets spent plenty of time resting and recuperating during their much-needed day off yesterday and are going to be chomping at the bit to redeem themselves in Nationwide Arena tonight. Of course, you know what they say about assuming...

Sure, the Jackets were manhandled by the Flyers on Tuesday. Sure, the Jackets are missing eight core members of their roster due to injury. However, this is an odds-defying team that is capable of producing odds-defying results, and to write them off during a tough week isn’t fair. Onward and upward!

Player to Watch

Elvis Merzlikins hasn’t been dealt a game like Tuesday’s since his rise to Columbus and NHL notoriety happened in December. It will be interesting to see how he recovers and has mentally prepared himself for a different result in Columbus tonight. Elvis allowed in four of the five goals scored on Tuesday, with the fifth goal scored when Matiss Kivlenieks took over in net in the third period.

Not all of the goals were Elvis’s fault, for sure - some unfortunate bounces off of Andrew Peeke’s skates and Elvis’s helmet resulted in some pucks in the net on Tuesday. However, he owned them like they were all his fault, and I’m sure he’s not keen on a repetition of history on Thursday.

Jackets Notes

Oliver Bjorkstrand is now on a 5-game point streak, having scored the lone goal in Tuesday night’s game. He’s also the first player to break 20 goals scored this season for the Jackets. Of no relevance to this game but still worth mentioning is that Joonas Korpisalo was sent up to Cleveland for conditioning purposes, so it’s good to know that he’s making steps in that regard.

Based on everything said by players and coaches post-game on Tuesday, they knew they blew that game, but they are still confident they can turn things around in time for a potential playoff run.

“I didn’t go in the locker room after the game, so I can’t tell you how they feel,” Tortorella said in his post-game remarks on Tuesday, reported by The Dispatch. “But I’m not worried about (the confidence level). I’m not worried about that at all. I think we have the proper mindset of how we’re trying to approach this and we’ll get ready to play the next game.”

The Other Bench

Tuesday night’s significant playmakers for Philly were Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux - Philippe Myers also scored off a deflection, and Ivan Provorov’s goal was challenged and reversed in the first period. Basically, it was a team effort on behalf of the Flyers to defeat the Jackets. Tonight, the Jackets will need to shut down these players and not allow any goals to squeak in. Oh, and it would be helpful if we could score too!

Season Series

10/26/19 CBJ 4 @ PHI 7
11/27/19 PHI 3 @ CBJ 2
02/18/20 CBJ 1 @ PHI 5
02/20/20 PHI @ CBJ

Stats

Philadelphia Columbus
3.22 (9) GPG 2.56 (28)
2.88 (11) GAPG 2.49 (2)
20.1% (16) PP% 16.4% (24)
81.8% (11) PK% 82.5% (9)
51.4% (8) 5v5 Shot Attempt % 49.3% (19)
50.9% (12) 5v5 Unblocked shot attempt % 51.2% (11)
8.9 (6) 5v5 Shot % 6.7 (29)
.911 (24) 5v5 Save % .932 (4)
Travis Konecny, 20 G Leader Oliver BJORKSTRAND, 20
Sean Couturier, 35 A Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 27
Sean Couturier, 53 P Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 44
Joel Farabee, 39 PIM Leader Nick Foligno, 58
18-11-3 Home / Road 13-15-3
6-3-1 Last 10 3-3-4

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Gus Nyquist Kevin Stenlund Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Nick Foligno Boone Jenner Nathan Gerbe
Sonny Milano Pierre-Luc Dubois Emil Bemstrom
Jakub Lilja Riley Nash Eric Robinson
Zach Werenski Markus Nutivaara
Vladislav Gavrikov David Savard
Scott Harrington Andrew Peeke
Elvis Merzlikins
Matiss Kivlenieks
Philadelphia Flyers
Claude Giroux Sean Couturier Jakub Voracek
Joel Farabee Kevin Hayes Travis Konecny
James Van Riemsdyk Scott Laughton Tyler Pitlick
Michael Raffl Connor Bunnaman Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Ivan Provorov Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg Justin Braun
Carter Hart
Brian Elliott