Game Preview 40/82: Flyers vs Blue Jackets

Flyers' Cam Atkinson
PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 20: Philadelphia Flyers Right Wing Cam Atkinson (89) skates with the puck during the first period of a National Hockey League game between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers on October 20, 2021, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

Mike Yeo and the Philadelphia Flyers cannot allow this losing streak to hit double-digits.

During the losing streak, there are some positives. Yeo had to coach around unavailable players due to COVID protocol, which Alain Vigneault didn’t, and because of it, recalled players auditioned for a role.

Clearly, the negatives outweigh the positives. After all, this is a nine-game losing streak. Special teams are equally as bad; it’s just that the penalty kill is more of the issue. Sean Couturier, Ryan Ellis, and Kevin Hayes are injured; they all help the Flyers’ defense. Despite that, there’s more fight during this cursed streak.

Tonight, Philadelphia hosts the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Flyers slide into fifth place in the Metropolitan Division with a regulation win. They also avoid losing ten straight games.

Columbus Blue Jackets (17-18-1; 35pts)

Jakub Voracek will make his return to the Wells Fargo Center tonight. A master craftsman of curating scoring plays, Voracek is second in scoring on the Blue Jackets, despite scoring just one goal all season. Of course, the spotlight will be on Voracek and Cam Atkinson.

Elvis Merzlikins will get the start tonight for the Blue Jackets. He was awful on the road against the Florida Panthers. Merzlikins’ recent start lasted 13:28, the amount of time it took to allow four goals. Carter Verhaeghe scored twice, sandwiching a powerplay and shorthanded goal. Joonas Korpisalo performed as poorly.

Here’s the projected lineup for Columbus:

Nyquist-Jenner-Bjorkstrand
Laine-Texier-Voracek
Chinakhov-Roslovic-Bemstrom
Robinson-Kuraly-Domi

Werenski-Peeke
Bayreuther-Bean
Christiansen-Kukan

Merzlikins
(Korpisalo)

Boone Jenner and Oliver Bjorkstrand can take over this game via the powerplay. The Blue Jackets, who converted once on the road against the Panthers, take on a penalty kill that ranks 31st over the last nine games.

A Philadelphia Fly-By

Back between the pipes is Carter Hart. He’s played tough all season, though his record doesn’t reflect his effort. No matter the coach, Hart gives his team a chance to win. That was evident in the shootout loss on Tuesday.

Trailing behind Columbus in the Metropolitan Division, Philadelphia can do without overtime or shootout decisions. They need a win. An undisputed victory jumps the Blue Jackets.

Here’s the projected lineup for the Flyers:

Farabee-Giroux-Atkinson
Lindblom-Laughton-Konecny
van Riemsdyk-Frost-Mayhew
Willman-Bunnaman-MacEwen

Provorov-Braun
York-Sanheim
Yandle-Ristolainen

Hart
(Jones)

I would have loved to see Wade Allison recalled by now, but we all have to wait. Instead, we’re all watching Atkinson play his former team and comparing his performance tonight to Voracek. “Who won the trade” talking points will likely follow. Philadelphia wanted a goal scorer, and Atkinson delivered. The cherry on top is earning the win, stopping the losing streak before it hits ten games.

Prediction

As heartbreaking as the shootout loss was, the Flyers feel like they’re on the brink of winning a game. Shaking the slump is the hardest part. Philadelphia has to do that against Columbus, who recently lost by a touchdown. Which will prevail: the team that has to respond after allowing nine goals, or the ones who lost nine straight games?

Flyers 4, Blue Jackets 2

(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

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