Blue Jackets blast the Flyers
COLUMBUS - One of the unique features of Nationwide Arena is a handcrafted, 1,564-pound Civil War-era cannon that rests on the concourse.
The Blue Jackets, after all, are named after Ohio's Civil War history. Union Army Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was one of five Ohio-born officers to serve as president of the United States.
The replica 1857 Napoleon cannon is filled with 8 inches of black powder for charge and fired after every Blue Jackets goal, scaring the uninitiated every time. BOOM!
Flyers coach Craig Berube might now need hearing aids.
Capitalizing on numerous failed clearing attempts and turnovers, the Blue Jackets blasted the Flyers back to Philadelphia with a 5-2 loss. The Flyers have not won in Columbus since Dec. 13, 2005, a streak of four consecutive losses.
"I don't think we're playing as a team right now," Kimmo Timonen said. "Columbus looked like a team tonight. That was the difference. When you start trying to do somebody else's job, running around and not playing as a team, that's what happens."
Call it the dog days of the season, but the Flyers' wheels are falling off in January.
They have gone three straight games without a win for the first time since Dec. 7-11. Their six points (2-4-2) represent the fewest the Flyers have garnered in an eight-game stretch since the group of games that resulted in their 3-9-0 start to the season.
The Flyers' skid suddenly has them teetering on the edge of a playoff spot after blowing a chance in Buffalo last week to build their cushion to seven points. With 30 games to play, the Flyers have a two-point lead on Detroit, which has two games in hand. Now, they begin a brutal stretch of seven straight games against playoff opponents before the Olympic break, including a trio of the best teams in the league in California next week.
"We're not playing very well defensively," Jake Voracek said. "We gave up so much, we gave up  shots on net. It's crazy. We better tighten it up because the division is getting tight and we have a tough schedule coming up. We better be ready for Saturday [vs. Boston], because if we play like we did the last few games, we're going to get beat badly."
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 26 of 28 shots to beat the Flyers in his first start against his former team. He extended the Blue Jackets' franchise-best winning streak to eight games on the night of their 1,000th game in history. That streak is the NHL's third-longest run of wins this season.
Fans inside the lively and underrated arena chanted, "We want Mason!" throughout the game - begging for a crack at Steve Mason, their former Calder Trophy-winning goaltender who was once the face of the franchise. He did not start in either trip back.
Last night, it wouldn't have mattered if Mason or Martin Brodeur was in net for the Flyers. They were thoroughly outplayed, almost from the start, and Ray Emery was victimized by another shoddy effort defensively. Emery left comment on the defensive play to others, but said: "Every time we're giving up goals like we are, I look no further than myself. I just want to save more pucks."
"It feels like we are just throwing the puck away," Voracek said. "They just keep coming at us and coming at us. We need to make sure we're doing a better job with the puck. It's too much running around in our zone and we are tired. It's hard to win every game 6-5."
Despite their shortcomings, the Flyers amazingly still had a chance to tie the game late in the second period with a five-on-three power play before giving up two goals early in the third period. The Flyers have allowed a staggering average of 36 shots over the last five games (39, 32, 43, 29, 37). Their season average before those five games was 29.6.
"We're just not defending very well, not playing well in our own end," Berube said. "Breaking the puck out, turning it over, we're just not defending well in general. I don't think it's a work-ethic thing and I think it's just execution, for the most part."
When it was all over, fans were chanting, "Go home, Flyers." And then the cannon blasted one more time after the final horn, just for good measure.
"We need to work more as a team," Claude Giroux said. "I don't think we worked together, I don't think we supported each other. We're losing a lot of battles. It's not that we don't want to win them. Our confidence is not there to beat a guy one-on-one."
Scott Hartnell was whistled for three minor penalties, including a rare exacta of two separate calls on one shift in the first period . . . Kimmo Timonen spent time after the game with Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen, the NHL's first-ever European-born manager. The steely-eyed Kekalainen, 47, was Timonen's first agent and helped get him to the NHL . . . Vinny Lecavalier returned to center and Craig Berube said he felt Lecavalier, who scored a power-play goal in the slot, was better last night.