Toiling teams meet as Flyers host Jackets

The news continues to be pretty grim for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Cam Atkinson, who was second on the team with 23 goals last season, will not return until next season due to pending neck surgery on Wednesday.

“It’s been hard for him,” Flyers head coach John Tortorella said after practice on Monday. “He wants to be part of it. He wants to try to help. He sees what we’ve been going through a little bit here.”

And to make matters worse, Kevin Hayes, who leads the Flyers with 29 points this season, may not be available when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

Hayes was a healthy scratch for a 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday. It’s unclear if Tortorella will continue to keep Hayes sidelined.

“I’m never going to say there’s a benefit to being benched,” Hayes said. “I don’t think I should have been benched, but it’s not my decision. He’s the coach. I’m a player. He makes the lineup. He wants the best team on the ice to ultimately win, and that’s what he wanted that night.”

The Flyers will enter this game with 27 points to place seventh in the Metropolitan Division. Only the Blue Jackets are worse, sitting five points behind.

When Tortorella was hired, some fiery confrontations were expected between him and the players.

“Stuff happens,” Tortorella said. “I have to make decisions on people. Standards are held for everyone in the organization — no matter what draft pick (you were), no matter what stature, no matter what you’re thought about. I have to hold the standard for everybody.”

The Flyers have been besieged with injuries, which includes Sean Couturier and Ryan Ellis, who’s lost for the season.

Wade Allison, however, is expected back after being sidelined since Nov. 12 with hip and oblique injuries. Allison has three goals in 14 games this season.

The struggling Blue Jackets will enter this matchup on a four-game losing streak.

Columbus dropped a hard-fought 2-1 decision to the Dallas Stars on Monday.

Kent Johnson scored the lone goal and Daniil Tarasov stopped 32 shots for the Blue Jackets, who have been outscored 14-4 during the four-game skid.

To add insult to injury, forward Yegor Chinakhov didn’t return after suffering a lower body injury at 18:40 of the first period when Stars forward Joel Kiviranta appeared to land on the back of his left knee.

Like the Flyers, the Blue Jackets have been crushed with key injuries to players such as Jake Voracek, Boone Jenner, Zach Werenski and Cole Sillinger among others.

Jenner is scheduled to undergo thumb surgery on Tuesday.

“I don’t even know what to say anymore,” Columbus head coach Brad Larsen said.

Larsen added that he’s unsure of the extent to Chinakhov’s injury.

“We should know more (Tuesday),” Larsen said.

Tarasov was a bright spot for the Blue Jackets against a high-powered Stars offense.

“Most goalies want to get into a rhythm if they can,” Larsen said. “That was a big reason I wanted to see him. He looked very comfortable tonight. Every time you see him in there, he does look more comfortable.”

The Blue Jackets will arrive in Philadelphia with a subpar 2-8-1 road record.

–Field Level Media