Tonight, the Blue Jackets travel to Philadelphia for a weeknight Metropolitan Division clash with the Flyers. As the teams currently occupy the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots, Columbus with 72 points and Philadelphia with 71, tonight's game has massive playoff implications.
After a tremendous 19-2-5 stretch, the Blue Jackets have now lost five in a row. The good news is that they remain in the first wild-card playoff position despite the recent slide. The bad news is that if these losing ways continue, they'll soon find themselves on the outside looking in.
32–20–7 (71 points)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
7 P.M. – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 18
WELLS FARGO CENTER
FOX SPORTS OHIO
FOX SPORTS GO
Philadelphia has had an up-and-down season thus far, mostly depending on how their goaltenders have performed. Regardless, the Flyers sport a solid lineup of offensive talent that will be sure to challenge the defensive Blue Jackets and their stingy defense.
Sean Couturier leads the Flyers in points with 17-35-52, and appears to be a favorite for the NHL's Selke award given to the best defensive forward. The Blue Jackets will have their hands full not only with Couturier, but with a balanced Flyers lineup that gives head coach Alain Vigneault plenty of options regardless of the situation. This should be a spirited affair at Wells Fargo Center tonight, as both teams understand the gravity of the situation and how important points are as the season winds down. Buckle up.
Here's a look at tonight's projected lines for the Blue Jackets:
- PLAYOFF HOPES. With the Blue Jackets and Flyers neck-and-neck in the Eastern Conference playoff race, tonight's contest holds several playoff implications. Should Philadelphia win in regulation, they'd jump Columbus for the first wild card. While we're still more than a month away from the Stanley Cup playoffs, every point counts at this time of the year.
- STENLUND JUMPS UP. In the last few games, Kevin Stenlund has had the opportunity to play an elevated role in the Blue Jackets' lineup. Pivoting Oliver Bjorkstrand and Gustav Nyquist, the young Swede has performed very well, even scoring Sunday night's game-tying goal against the New Jersey Devils.
- PL-DEMOTED. Likewise, Pierre-Luc Dubois has been relegated further down the Blue Jackets lineup, currently centering a line with Sonny Milano and Emil Bemstrom. While this is no fourth-line assignment, Dubois has seen his ice-time shrink the last few outings, with head coach John Tortorella citing his inconsistent compete level. If the Blue Jackets are looking to end their losing skid, Dubois will have to reattain his previous level of competition that helped the Blue Jackets back into the playoff conversation.