They’re not as dangerous as the St. Louis Blues or Boston Bruins, but the Columbus Blue Jackets are a team against whom the Flyers need to steal two points.
The Blue Jackets enter Thursday night's game at the Wells Fargo Center just four points behind the Flyers in the Metropolitan Division standings. Both teams have played 75 games.
That means that, with a win tonight, the Blue Jackets would be just two points behind the Flyers – and that much closer to moving out of the second wild-card spot they currently occupy.
“It’s a big game for us,” Claude Giroux said. “To get a little cushion for the playoffs too would be good. They’ve been playing very well and they’re a good team, there’s a reason why we’re in a class with them.”
The Flyers are 1-2 against the Blue Jackets so far this season, losing both games in Columbus and winning the only other game at home, 5-4, back in December.
With a win tonight, the Flyers would need just four more points to clinch a playoff spot. It's yet another big game in what has been a month full of important matchups.
“It’s a big game,” Kimmo Timonen said. “But all seven games are big. It doesn’t matter if we play Florida next week or whatever, it’s a big game for us. We need points.
“Tonight’s obviously huge, but the rest of the six games after tonight are also huge.”
The Blue Jackets, it should be noted, are 0-5-1 lifetime in Philadelphia.
Mason vs. Bob
Both goaltenders will face their former teams tonight, as Steve Mason gets the start for the Flyers and Sergei Bobrovsky will start for Columbus.
It’s Bob’s first start as a Blue Jacket in Philly since he was traded.
“It’s going to be a good battle for both of them,” Voracek said. “I think it’s going to be special, as well. It’s going to be exciting for Mase and for Bob. Hopefully we’re going to come up with a win at the end.”
The two goalies are pretty evenly matched. Mason has a .916 save percentage and 2.53 goals-against average, while Bobrovsky has a .919 save percentage and 2.47 goals-against average.
None of the Flyers is surprised by the success Bobrovsky has had since joining the Blue Jackets.
“He’s a really nice guy and he works hard,” Timonen said. “He’s one of the top goalies in the league.
“We’re going to make sure we shoot a lot of pucks and get traffic. He’s one of those goalies that doesn’t give up many chances.”
No big deal
Mason, of course, isn’t the only Flyer who will be facing his ex-team. Voracek spent three seasons with the Blue Jackets, netting 39 goals in 241 games.
It’s been long enough, though, that Voracek doesn’t think much about it anymore.
“Not anymore,” he said. “The first couple games, probably, it was like that. But not anymore. We’re battling them for a playoff spot right now, so we’ve got to make sure we beat them tonight. There’s no more extra motivation for me anymore.”