Flyers at Blue Jackets: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Blue Jackets: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Flyers (30-26-7, 67 points) will go bobbing for a victory Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets (35-24-3, 73 points) when they square off against Sergei Bobrovsky, who's looking to beat his old team for the fourth time this season.

Bobrovsky has 202 career wins since joining the Blue Jackets in the summer of 2012 — the same total of the top four Flyers goalies during that time. Steve Mason leads the way with 104, followed by Michal Neuvirth with 39 and Brian Elliott with 31.

Let's take a look at tonight's essentials:

• When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. 
• Where: Nationwide Arena
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Blue Jackets have been a stinger in the Flyers' side since the two teams became Metropolitan Division foes. Columbus holds an 18-5-1 record against the Flyers dating back to 2013-14.

Columbus is going for a four-game regular-season sweep against the Flyers. It would be its first-ever sweep of the Flyers in a series of two or more games. 

• Goaltender Brian Elliott has been very solid in four appearances since returning from a core muscle injury. Elliott is 2-0-0 with a 2.21 goals-against average and .940 save percentage (see story). He will start his third straight game Thursday.

• Defenseman Samuel Morin has been activated and is currently on the Flyers' roster, although there’s no timetable for when the 2013 first-round pick will see his first action of the season.

• The Blue Jackets made the biggest splash ahead of the trade deadline, going all-in by acquiring center Matt Duchene, forward Ryan Dzingel, defenseman Adam McQuaid and goaltender Keith Kinkaid.

With the additions of Duchene and Dzingel, Columbus is the only NHL team with six 20-goal scorers (Cam Atkinson, Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Josh Anderson).

They were already a good team and now they’ve added three or four players. Sometimes when you play a couple days after the deadline, I don’t know if it’s the right word ... ‘screw' up the chemistry the first few games, so maybe we can take advantage of that. Pittsburgh with all their injuries found a way to win it in Columbus, which I think was huge for them as well, so that means we’ve got to have the same approach.

- Jakub Voracek

• Bellmawr, New Jersey's Eric Robinson has been a mainstay in the Blue Jackets' lineup recently. Robinson played youth hockey at Hollydell Ice Arena, where his mother worked with Guy Gaudreau, the father of Johnny Gaudreau. Robinson went undrafted before playing four years at Princeton.

Atkinson, the Blue Jackets' leading scorer with 35 goals, has a special teams goal in each of his past three games (two power play, one shorthanded).

 The Blue Jackets' penalty kill has been outstanding recently. Since Dec. 31, the Jackets have allowed a power-play goal in just three of their last 24 games, a success rate of 93 percent.

Projected lineup

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Scott Laughton-Ryan Hartman
Michael Raffl-Corban Knight-Phil Varone

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim
Robert Hagg-Radko Gudas
Shayne Gostisbehere-Philippe Myers

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Cam Talbot

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What the Sergei Bobrovsky-Blue Jackets 'incident' could mean for Flyers

What the Sergei Bobrovsky-Blue Jackets 'incident' could mean for Flyers

It's safe to say the chances of Sergei Bobrovsky returning to the Blue Jackets in 2019-20 took a major hit Thursday.

Those chances didn't look particularly promising entering this season. Now, the latest is the two-time Vezina Trophy winner won't be with the team for Thursday night's game, a decision made by Columbus.

Here is the statement from Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen:

There are certain expectations and values that we have established for our players that define our culture. An incident occurred in which Sergei failed to meet those expectations and values, so we made the decision that he would not be with the team for tonight's game. This is an internal matter and we will have no further comment at this time. 

According to a report by The Athletic's Aaron Portzline, a meeting regarding the matter will be held prior to Friday's practice in which Bobrovsky is expected to partake. There are rumblings that there has been friction this season between Bobrovsky and head coach John Tortorella, who wouldn't comment on the situation at Thursday's morning skate.

This drama is somewhat notable in Flyers country because the team's goalie situation is the opposite of sacrosanct and Bobrovsky can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Per a report by Sportsnet's Chris Johnston on Dec. 9, there were "whispers" the Flyers will "take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky on July 1," which is when free agency opens.

Who knows, maybe this is the final straw for Bobrovsky in Columbus and a trade happens before the Feb. 25 deadline. However, the goalie has a no-movement clause that would have to be waived for it to happen and a deal seems unlikely given the Blue Jackets are in third place of the Metropolitan Division, primed for a playoff push.

As for the Flyers, they will have all sorts of decisions in net during the offseason. They even have them now after playing their seventh goalie of the year, tying the NHL record.

But really, any Bobrovsky-Flyers buzz right now would be premature given so much is unsettled within the organization. Who is named the Flyers' next head coach will be a significant factor in Bobrovsky's decision. So will the Flyers' direction and at this point, it's unknown if the organization will be pushing forward or retooling.

What is known is that Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets seem to be growing further apart and the 30-year-old would give the Flyers instant stability in net if general manager Chuck Fletcher is willing to dole out the dollars and years.

If the Flyers do in fact go after Bobrovsky, convincing him they're the best fit will be a whole different battle.

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Sergei Bobrovsky-Carter Hart duel gives Flyers firsthand look at tough decision ahead

Sergei Bobrovsky-Carter Hart duel gives Flyers firsthand look at tough decision ahead

It took six days into the Chuck Fletcher era for the Flyers to reenter the rumor business. Two weeks ago, there were whispers they will take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky on July 1.

On Saturday afternoon, the Flyers witnessed firsthand why that might be a solid idea even if it does potentially block Carter Hart from taking over as their No. 1 goalie full-time.

Bobrovsky stood on his head in the Columbus crease, stopping 34 pucks and making highlight-reel saves look routine. The Flyers fell, 4-3, to their former goalie's Blue Jackets.

"I try not to think about what's happened in the past," Bobrovsky said. "I have a huge amount of respect for this organization, for this club, but it's hockey."

This wasn't totally a case of the Flyers outplaying an opponent and simply running into a two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goalie. There were defensive breakdowns, careless turnovers and Ivan Provorov's confidence with the puck remains a huge concern (see observations).

That said, this wasn't totally a case of the Flyers flat-out being dominated either. The Flyers had 67 shot attempts to Columbus' 30 and peppered Bobrovsky with 37 shots on net. The advanced metrics largely favor the Flyers. They ended an 0-for-13 power-play drought, though the man advantage finished 1 for 4 and didn't completely change that narrative.

"As I said to the players after the game," interim head coach Scott Gordon said, "with the exception of the plays on the goals, we played a game where we certainly had our fair share of chances, we limited the amount of opportunities. We should go to New York feeling confident about our game. I think we've had a level of consistency in the three games to know that we're starting to build some momentum as to how we want to play."

When it comes to discussing the Flyers' goalie situation, it's important to weigh the now vs. the future, something this organization has historically struck out on so much.

When it comes to talking Flyers goaltending, it's important to learn from the malpractice that took place with Bobrovsky, an undrafted free-agent signing that had all the tools already in his toolbox that led to him winning the Vezina in his first season in Columbus.

The Flyers have never known how to develop a goalie. History doesn't lie, so when it comes to how they should handle their current situation, it's hard to know exactly what to do.

Hart is here, for now, and he made his third straight start Saturday. His stat line was ugly — four goals on 19 shots — but it doesn't tell the whole story. Egregious turnovers and defensive breakdowns led to three of the four goals. The loss isn't on Hart.

Bobrovsky can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and all signs point to him testing the market. He has a legitimate case to cash out this summer as the highest-paid goalie in the NHL and if the Flyers are going to "take a run" at him, they're going to have to muster up the big bucks. The Flyers certainly know what he can do, and they saw it again Saturday. In fact, this season, Bobrovsky is 3-0-0 with 89 saves on 98 shots.

There is a way to make this work, a way where Hart receives a little more AHL seasoning and Bobrovsky handles the No. 1 job. It's important to remember that Hart is 20. The Flyers have to handle this goalie dilemma properly this time around. They didn't with Bobrovsky by signing Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year contract.

The Flyers need a goalie to get to Hart. It was Ron Hextall's biggest failure as GM. Hart is in The Show now and for all we know, he may change the narrative himself. He may prove that he's ready to handle all of the pressures that come with being the No. 1 goalie in the city known as the NHL goaltending graveyard.

But if he's not, and Bobrovsky's swimming in those waters come July 1, there isn't a better bridge to Hart than the one they should have never given up on prematurely.

Saturday was just a reminder of what could have been.

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