Flyers start new era vs. Blue Jackets

Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange
Claude Giroux and the Philadelphia Flyers face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Claude Giroux and the Philadelphia Flyers face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

The Philadelphia Flyers were busy during their four-day break in the schedule.

A week after firing Ron Hextall as the club's general manager, the Flyers named Chuck Fletcher as the man in charge.


"At the conclusion of a rigorous review of GM candidates, Chuck Fletcher clearly stood out from the field of talented and capable executives we considered," Dave Scott, chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor and Flyers governor, said in a statement released by the club.

"Chuck has earned success throughout his impressive NHL career and offers the right mix of expertise, business acumen and leadership qualities that the Flyers need today as we work to achieve our ultimate goal, the Stanley Cup championship."

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Fletcher spent nine seasons as the GM of the Minnesota Wild and was fired last year. Now, he's running an 11-12-2 team that heads into Thursday night's home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets -- with a one-game winning streak.

Philly ended a two-game losing streak with a 4-2 win at Pittsburgh last Saturday night and look to even the season series with the Jackets, who beat the Flyers 6-3 in Columbus on Oct. 18.


The Jackets are coming off a wild -- and rather bizarre -- 9-6 home loss to the Calgary Flames that was a rather historical game for coach John Tortorella.

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Not in a good way.

"They had 11 scoring chances and they scored nine goals," Tortorella said after his team's second straight loss. "I have never been in a game like this."

Sergei Bobrovsky allowed eight goals on 26 shots before being relieved in the third period -- Cam Atkinson's hat trick and extending his points streak to 11 straight games wasted as the Jackets fell to 15-10-2.

"We played a really good first period, then for whatever reason sat back and let them play," Atkinson said. "I don't think we checked hard. We made it a really easy game for them, and they just capitalized."

With his new team 28th in the NHL allowing 3.52 goals per game, Fletcher is intent on improving the defense.

"It's not the ideal situation. It's not a normal situation when you have a GM coming in midway through the season," said D-man Shayne Gostisbehere.

"Anything in life, you only get one first impression, so you obviously want to be on your game. Hopefully, we can string some wins."


Anthony Stolarz, the latest in the ever-growing list of goaltenders for this team, got his first win since 2016 against Pittsburgh.

Bobrovsky, who fell to 10-9-0 with Tuesday night's loss, has dominated the Flyers, his old team, since leaving going 11-3-1 with a 1.98 GAA and .931 save percentage. He is expected to face Stolarz, a draft pick the Flyers received when they traded Bobrovsky.

Calvin Pickard was in goal for the Flyers in the Oct. 18 loss, with Atkinson scoring twice for Columbus.

The Jackets blew a 4-1 lead Tuesday night.

"I fought all night long as far as, should I take (Bobrovsky out)? all night long, because you could see," Tortorella said. "But some of them were deflected and there was some crazy ... it was just one of those nights. He didn't look comfortable, but I just decided to see if he could play through it."

"That game was a fluke," said Jackets captain Nick Foligno. "You're going to see the real Columbus Blue Jackets tomorrow in the way we're going to play. We have to."

Atkinson's streak is the second-longest in club history, trailing only a 13-gamer by Ryan Johansen. Atkinson has 13 goals and six assists during his streak and his hat trick was his club-record sixth of his career.


New Flyers assistant coach Rick Wilson officially joined the team on the ice for practice Wednesday. The 68-year-old Wilson also worked for Fletcher in Minnesota.

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