Recap: Blue Jackets at Flyers

Here’s what happened.

The Columbus Blue Jackets visited the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon for a matinee matchup in the city of brotherly love. The Blue Jackets were looking to build momentum ahead of the playoffs next week and seeking to break their 5 game losing streak.

Sergei Bobrovsky would start in net for Columbus, his last start of regular season as the team looked to rest him before their matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. Gabriel Carlsson, called up yesterday, made his NHL debut today on the first pairing with Seth Jones.  He would take the place of Scott Harrington, who was healthy scratched.

Can we just talk about Bob’s numbers? 41-16-5, 2.02 GAA, .933 SV%. That’s insane. He should win the Vezina trophy this year in a runaway.

Also, some good news:

So. The Blue Jackets took the ice in Philadelphia looking to build momentum and good habits. How did they do?

First Period

The Blue Jackets gave Gabriel Carlsson the start in his first NHL game. Nice touch by Torts. The lines were shuffled slightly today, with Alexander Wennberg playing with Brandon Saad and Oliver Bjorkstrand. That is pretty clearly a scoring line.

The Blue Jackets registered the first three shots on goal of the game, but the game was slow starting. It was likely an effect of the early start time - both teams were struggling to maintain possession and were missing on passes. There were zero high danger scoring chances for either team through the first ten minutes of the game.

At the 11:00 mark, Steve Mason made two stellar saves to deny Alexander Wennberg on the doorstep after a slick feed from Brandon Saad. That represented the first real scoring chance of the day.

At 12:52 of the period, the Philadelphia Flyers took the lead on a wrist shot from Pierre-Édouard Bellemare. The wrist shot completely fooled Bobrovsky. There was some defensive confusion allowing Bellemare to get free. Immediately following the goal, Wayne Simmonds had a chance stymied by Bobrovsky.

Sergei Bobrovsky allowed another goal by Michael Del Zotto at 14:24, but the goal was disallowed for incidental contact by Sean Couturier. Philadelphia challenged the goal, and the call was overturned, and the goal was allowed to stand.

There was a visible lack of intensity from the Blue Jackets players. I can’t blame them, with nothing to play for, but still. It’s not great to see. Brad Shaw mentioned that the team needed to focus on “investment,” which really isn’t something that you want to hear from a team on the verge of making the playoffs.

Wayne Simmonds had a gaping net with 2:45 to go, but somehow the puck stayed out of the net. William Karlsson left the puck on the doorstep, but Sergei Bobrovsky was able to bail him out.

After the first period, the Philadelphia Flyers led 2-0.

Second Period

Writer update: I turned the Masters on my tablet on during the intermission. Golf is far more exciting than this game so far.

The Blue Jackets drew a power play early in the second period, and they were FINALLY able to capitalize. Seth Jones let a puck go at 1:07 and Ivan Provorov deflected it into his own net. That goal by Jones, his 12th, tied a franchise record for goals in a season by defenseman with Bryan Berard.

Also, hey, the power play finally did something!

At 5:01, Scott Hartnell went to the penalty box for roughing after Sean Couturier fell on Bobrovsky. Good for Hartnell to stand up for his goaltender. The Flyers were able to capitalize with the advantage, though, as Jakub Voracek was able to fire the puck past Bobrovsky, restoring the 2 goal advantage.

Kyle Quincey went to the penalty box at 9:13 for tripping Travis Konecny. The Blue Jackets allowed some tantalizing chances for the Flyers - a recurring theme of late is the penalty kill allowing too many passes through the area in front of the crease. The Blue Jackets did manage to kill the penalty, though.

Josh Anderson and Brandon Manning had a tussle following a struggle for position in front of the net. Both players were assessed minors in addition to the fighting majors, Anderson for slashing and Manning for cross checking.

At 13:48, Ivan Provorov made it 4-1. He beat Sergei Bobrovsky high stick side . Provorov was given far too much time and space in the offensive zone.

Boone Jenner beat Steve Mason on an odd man rush to make it 4-2 with 4 minutes to go. Jack Johnson forced a turnover in the defensive zone which led to the chance, one of the best plays of the game for the Jackets. The assists went to Sam Gagner and Scott Hartnell.

Matt Calvert hit the post in the final minutes of the period, but there was no further action.

After 40 minutes, it was 4-2 Philadelphia.

Third Period

The third period started with Scott Hartnell heading to the box for tripping Michael Del Zotto at 1:22. The Blue Jackets nearly found a third on a rush, but David Savard just missed the redirection. The penalty expired with Philadelphia generating two shots.

William Karlsson drew a penalty at 7:08 for hooking from Brandon Manning as he looked to skate in free on Steve Mason. Despite some offensive zone time, the Blue Jackets could not capitalize.

There was no action really in the third period, both teams pretty well went through the motions. Of note, Cam Atkinson was removed from the first unit power play and nailed to the end of the bench - he has struggled the last few weeks, and Torts may have been looking to send a message to his leading goal scorer.


Philadelphia Flyers 4 Columbus Blue Jackets 2

Final Thoughts

Gabriel Carlsson did not look out of place in his NHL debut. That’s a great sign for the future of the defensive corps.

Congratulations to Sam Gagner for setting a career high in points today with 50.

The Blue Jackets broke an 0 for 20 streak on the power play, which was nice to see.

I’m trying to be positive heading into the playoffs, but today was a clunker. At least there were positives to take from Thursday’s game, and from the Penguins game last week. Today was just a flat dud. The team looked exceedingly disinterested, and like they did not want to take too many risks or play hard. It’s understandable given the utter lack of stakes, but it’s still disheartening.

That being said. This team has played well of late, despite the losses. Today’s game literally did not matter one iota, making it effectively a preseason game. I’m not worried about this team ahead of next week, especially since Zach Werenski will be back soon.

Step down off the ledge, Jackets fans.

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