Sergei Bobrovsky

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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Carter Hart making Flyers management's decision a no-brainer

Carter Hart making Flyers management's decision a no-brainer

It had been so long since the Flyers had last tasted victory that injured goaltender Michal Neuvirth had the honors of presenting the player of the game helmet to Carter Hart following his stellar 37-save performance Thursday that snapped the team's eight-game losing streak.

Prior to Thursday, it was Neuvirth who had backstopped the Flyers to their previous victory, a 3-2 win Dec. 23 over the Rangers.

But Hart took it to another level Thursday night as he faced a flurry of shots over the final 10 minutes in preserving a one-goal victory, a 2-1 decision over the Stars (see observations).

"When you have a goalie that's making big stops and has that coolness to him, for whatever reason, you can definitely feel that on the ice,” James van Riemsdyk said. "I would be curious to see what his heart rate gets to because he seems so cool under pressure."

To give you an indication of how much of a difference maker Hart has been in the brief time he’s been in Philadelphia, the Flyers have just two wins this season when they score two or fewer goals. Take a good guess as to who that winning goaltender is.

In fact, Stars captain Jamie Benn made a concerted effort to bombard Hart’s crease just to make sure the 20-year-old could handle the pressure.

“That’s where he was the whole night, just around the net,” Hart said. “I could sense he’s that type of player. He wasn’t really chirping me but saying a couple of things to me to get a reaction. He came up to me the first time and said ‘Good save’ and then next time ‘You’re getting lucky buddy!’ He’s a good player and someone I’ve seen on TV growing up. It’s pretty cool to hear that from him.”

Hart, in his eighth start, has grown up quicker than anyone could have expected as he improved his goals against average to 2.46 with a .920 save percentage.

Whether it’s Brian Elliott, Anthony Stolarz or Neuvirth, it really doesn’t matter who returns from injury. There’s no going back for this kid. The only reason Hart should ever see Lehigh Valley again is for a rehab start and knock on wood, here’s hoping it never comes down to that.

On the same day Hart stood tall and rescued the Flyers from another potential third-period collapse, Sergei Bobrovsky had a meltdown of his own. 

The Blue Jackets' superstar goaltender was not with his Columbus teammates for Thursday’s game against the Predators after an “incident” in which Bobrovsky “failed to meet expectations and values” of the organization, according to GM Jarmo Kekaleinen.

If Bobrovsky’s departure from Columbus seemed imminent before this latest episode, then it appears to be a foregone conclusion now. The question moving forward as it pertains to the Flyers is why would Bobrovsky be on their radar with Hart clearly ahead of schedule?

The very reason Bobrovsky didn’t win two Vezina Trophies in Philadelphia was the organization’s overreaction to signing what they believed was a franchise goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov. What they got in return was a $51 million migraine headache.

For once, let’s stick to the plan.

As good as Bobrovsky has been throughout his career, the last thing the Flyers need moving forward into next season is to be handcuffed with another goaltender with a history of failing to meet an organization’s expectations and values.

Especially, when they have an exceptional talent who’s already exceeding them.

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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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