Columbus at Philadelphia
When: 7:00 PM
ET, Thursday, December 19, 2013
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Goaltender Steve Mason will get his first crack at the team that traded him away when the Philadelphia Flyers host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night in the front end of a home-and-home set. Mason was acquired toward the end of last season from Columbus, where he spent nearly all of his first five years and won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie in 2008-09. An afterthought at the end of his tenure with the Blue Jackets, Mason is having a stellar season with the Flyers.
Philadelphia has won seven straight at home and has a chance to climb above the NHL's version of .500 for the first time this season against the Blue Jackets, who are dealing with, coincidentally, issues of their own in net. Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky has been sidelined since Dec. 3 with a groin injury and backup Curtis McElhinney has missed two games in a row with a lower-body ailment. McElhinney will start if he's ready, otherwise it will be Mike McKenna.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Columbus), CSN Philadelphia
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (14-16-4): Ryan Johansen is on a tear with four goals and seven assists during a nine-game point streak, living up to the enormous promise that led the team to draft him with the No. 4 overall pick in 2010. The 21-year-old Johansen has already established career highs in goals (12) and assists (15). "People were kind of waiting to see me develop and become the player they thought I could be," Johansen told NHL.com. "At the start of this year it kind of clicked for me. I felt faster. I felt stronger. ... Those little things help you become an elite player."
ABOUT THE FLYERS (15-15-4): Mason's career nosedived following his brilliant rookie campaign, with three consecutive seasons of a three-plus goals-against average that all but relegated him to a spare part and led to his trade to Philadelphia. He has resurrected his career with the Flyers, not allowing more than three goals in his first 20 starts and helping the team overcome a ghastly 1-7-0 start. “From talking to him, I know he’s feeling confident, and he’s feeling like this is the best he’s ever played,” Blue Jackets forward and former Flyer R.J. Umberger said of Mason.
1. Philadelphia RW Jakub Voracek has scored five goals during a five-game points streak.
2. Columbus RW Jared Boll is expected to miss three to four months after undergoing ankle surgery Tuesday and D Dalton Prout (upper body) was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 16.
3. Flyers LW Brayden Schenn said he did not suffer a concussion in a 5-2 win against Washington on Tuesday, but his status is uncertain for Thursday.
PREDICTION: Flyers 4, Blue Jackets 2
Stats and Records