Steve Downie, who turned 27 on Thursday, will miss his sixth straight game Thursday because of a head injury, but Flyers coach Craig Berube said that when the winger is ready, he wants him back in the lineup.
“I think he’s close, but he’s not ready yet,” Berube said after Thursday’s morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center.
That means Tye McGinn figures to be the odd man out in the near future.
“I think he’s been fine; he’s skated well and been involved,” Berube said.
McGinn will play in Thursday’s critical game against Columbus, alongside Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.
“That line has been OK,” Beube said. ‘I’d like to see them get to the net a little more, get some more opportunities around the net.”
At first, Berube said “we’ll see how the team is going” when asked if it would be a difficult decision to re-insert Downie when he is ready. The coach then added: “There are always decisions to make with the lineup, but he’s going to be a part of it. He will be a part of it.”
As expected, Kimmo Timonen will return to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s 1-0 shootout loss in St. Louis. The Flyers had announced that Timonen missed the game because of an upper-body injury _ he took a puck to the chin in his last game _ but the defenseman said he didn’t make the trip because he had a virus.
Steve Mason (2.53 GAA, .916 save percentage) will face Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky (2.47, .919) in a matchup of goalies who will be facing their former teams. Bobrovsky will oppose the Flyers for the first time at the WFC.
Bobrovsky said he was excited to return to Philadelphia, but his motivation is the tight playoff race _ and not to prove the Flyers wrong for trading him.
He said he had "great years" with the Flyers and that he "really appreciated" his time here.
"This is a special game, a special feeling, definitely," said Bobrovsky, whose English is much better than when he was with the Flyers.
"Bob..Bob...Bob" used to be the chant when Bobrovsky made a big save at the Wells Fargo Center. Did he expect to hear chants tonight? "I don't know, he said with a knowing smile. "We'll see."
Berube said the key, from the Flyers’ standpoint, was handling the Blue Jackets’ aggressive forecheck and doing a good job on breakouts.
Columbus is 2-1 in the season series and has averaged five goals per game against the third-place Flyers, who have a four-point lead on the Blue Jackets in the Metro Division. Both teams have seven games left.