Former Flyer Sergei Bobrovsky usually plays well against most opponents and off the charts against the team that will forever regret trading him to Columbus for three draft picks in 2012.
The two-time winner of the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league's best goaltender, will face the Flyers on Thursday night at Nationwide Arena.
"He's unreal. He plays amazing against us every time," defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said Wednesday after practice in Voorhees. "I think he's the hardest goalie to score on. He's athletic. He makes saves and your jaw drops [because] you wouldn't expect him to make them."
In his career against the Flyers, Bobrovsky has a 10-3-1 record, two shutouts, a 1.91 goals-against average, and a .933 save percentage.
"We really have to bear down on any chance we have," Gostisbehere said. "Even if it's an empty net, don't think he's out of it because he can make a good save."
In his three appearances this season, Bobrovsky has compiled a 4.39 goals-against average and an .860 save percentage — numbers that are inflated because he gave up eight goals, a career worst, in his last outing, an 8-2 loss Saturday to Tampa Bay. He is a prospective unrestricted free agent, and the Blue Jackets (3-2) reportedly have an offer on the table.
The Flyers (3-3) are coming off a 6-5 shootout win Tuesday against Florida. Based on Wednesday's practice, they will use the same skaters who finished that game. That means the new-look third line will have Scott Laughton centering Michael Raffl and Wayne Simmonds, and Mikhail Vorobyev will drop from third-line center to fourth-line left winger. (There is a slight chance Corban Knight will replace Dale Weiss or Vorobyev as a fourth-line winger.)
Brian Elliott (4.04 GAA, .874 save percentage), who was pulled early in the third period after allowing the Panthers four goals on 23 shots, will be back in the net, coach Dave Hakstol strongly hinted. "Moose is our No. 1 guy, plain and simple," he said.
Defenseman Christian Folin, who had an assist and was plus-4 Tuesday, will remain in the lineup for the benched Andrew MacDonald. MacDonald was at a hospital with his wife Tuesday, and she delivered a baby girl, Sage, early Wednesday. But he would have been out of the lineup anyway, Hakstol said.
MacDonald has struggled in the first two weeks and believes he came back too early from an undisclosed injury that caused him to miss much of training camp. He was supposed to be sidelined six weeks but returned after less than three weeks.
"I'm trying to catch up to speed on everything," said MacDonald, who watched Tuesday's game on TV from his wife's hospital room. "Camp's usually a pretty intense time, and you're really going hard out there. I came in about halfway through and just eased my way in. In hindsight, I think I may have jumped into things a little bit too quick. I thought I could kind of push through it, and I think we realized over the first few games that we have to pump the brakes a little bit. My play wasn't up to standards where they need to be."
MacDonald said he needed to "reset and make sure everything is a full go before I take another run at this."
Injured center Nolan Patrick wore a "non-contact" jersey at practice and won't play Thursday. The Flyers hope he can return Saturday against surprising New Jersey. … With MacDonald at center ice at the end of practice, his teammates surrounded him and gave loud stick taps on the ice to celebrate the news of his daughter's birth. … The top defensive pairing of Ivan Provorov and Gostisbehere struggled Tuesday, but Hakstol said he had "no thought" of breaking up the two. He said they have to grow into their elevated role. … Hakstol said Vorobyev, a 21-year-old rookie, was "feeling his way through the early part of an NHL schedule."