Flyers/Blue Jackets Preview: Vigneault’s Spark

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Columbus Blue Jackets
Feb 28, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott (37) makes a save against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Figure it out. It was a popular game show back in the late 90’s on Nickelodeon. So much so, that it was revived in 2012 by the same network. “Figure it out,” is also what Alain Vigneault said about the top line for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Rightfully so. Through the first 7 games of the season, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek each had 4 points apiece. James Van Riemsdyk had a grand total of zero. 3 of Voracek’s 4 points came in the game against Edmonton. The line as a whole was struggling, and big time.

Voracek started out the week with an assist in the game against the Vegas Golden Knights. Then Chicago happened.

James Van Riemsdyk broke out in a big way, and posted 2 points against the Blackhawks. Giroux added a redirection goal to his point total for the year as well. If Vigneault’s intention was to light a fire with that comment in Bill Meltzer’s tweet, consider it sparked.

While point totals still leave more to be desired, the top line trio seem to be on the right track. Giroux is leading the pack with 5 points in the Flyers’ 8 games played, while Voracek has 4, and Van Riemsdyk has 2. Saturday night’s tilt against Columbus should see these three add a few more tallies to their point totals.

In Giroux’s career against Columbus, he has 28 points (9g, 19a) in 29 contests. JVR has 15 points (8g, 7a) in 19 games. Voracek has 19 points (6g, 13a) against his former team. If there were ever a time for that “spark” to ignite a true fire, that time is 7 P.M. Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Game Preview

Lines appear to remain the same, including Michael Raffl being on the fourth line after a scare late in the game Thursday night against Chicago. According to Adam Kimmelman, Raffl and Pitlick are rotating in and out on the fourth line at practice this morning.

Keeping with the trend, it appears as Brian Elliott will get his third straight start after a stellar outing against Chicago Thursday night. Elliott has been great the past few games. In his 3 starts with the Flyers, he’s saved 91 of 96 shots for a .948 save percentage, and roughly a 1.69 goals against average.

Columbus’ goaltending hasn’t quite been as solid as Elliott’s. Joonas Korpisalo has a .901 save percentage and 2.72 goals against average. His backup, Elvis Merzlikins has been worse, with a .863 goals against average and even 5 goals against average.

The Flyers have the point scorers, while Columbus has the favorable record. Sitting at 5-3-2. With a 6 game point streak in tact, Columbus looks to come into the city of brotherly love and disrupt the Flyers’ 2 game win streak. With 2 games in hand, the Flyers can gain some ground in the Metropolitan division tonight with a win against the Blue Jackets.

Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports