|Though they do not share identical records or places in the standings, the universes of the Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames are parallel. Both clubs have struggled with consistency in the first quarter of the NHL season, have had trouble scoring goals and want more production from their best players. |
It has been a little more than a week since these two teams last got together, and the Flames came away from Nationwide Arena wearing one of their most disappointing losses of the season. After earning a decisive victory over the top team in Western Conference – the Chicago Blackhawks – Calgary came out flat in Columbus and didn’t have any answers in a 4-1 loss to the Blue Jackets. That loss led Flames coach Brent Sutter to tell the media he would no longer ask players to do things, instead he was going to demand it.
Calgary dropped the next two games of that road trip (at St. Louis and at Detroit) and scored three goals in those games, but rebounded to beat the other top team the West: the Minnesota Wild. In that game, the Flames got goals from the players paid to score them, with Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay and Lee Stempniak chipping in on the scoresheet for a 5-2 win. Tuesday night at the Saddledome, the Flames put together one of their strongest defensive efforts to beat Nashville by a 1-0 final.
Henrik Karlsson made two starts in goal against the Blue Jackets last season, splitting a pair of decisions at Nationwide Arena. Sutter elected to play him in last week’s loss, but that seems unlikely with Miikka Kiprusoff picking up victories in his last two starts and looking like the Kipper of old.
The Blue Jackets will face a team tonight that wants to get on track in its building, and the Saddledome has not been kind to Columbus over the years. Calgary will be without top defenseman Mark Giordano, who suffered a lower-body injury early in the game against the Predators. Giordano scored the only goal for the Flames in their last game with the Blue Jackets.
Looking to boost their depth at forward, Flames GM Jay Feaster claimed Blake Comeau off waivers from the New York Islanders last week. Comeau, who had not registered a point yet this season with the Islanders, is scoreless in three games as a Flame.
| || || |
|Nash (7) ||Iginla, Glencross (7) |
|Prospal (13) ||Tanguay (12) |
|Prospal (19) ||Tanguay (16) |
|Dorsett (64) ||Jackman (34) |
|Johansen, MacKenzie (+3) ||Smith (+4) |
|Sanford (3-2-2) |
|Kiprusoff (10-9-0) |
|Sanford (1.61) ||Kiprusoff (2.32) |
|Sanford (.941) ||Kiprusoff (.920) || |
|• The Blue Jackets had a five-game point streak snapped Sunday against St. Louis, and have dropped back-to-back games after losing 4-1 at Vancouver on Tuesday. The five-game point streak marked the first time the club had points in five-straight games since going 5-0-1 Feb. 11-25. |
• Tonight marks the second of four meetings overall and first of two meetings at Scotiabank Saddledome this season between the Blue Jackets and Flames. Columbus is 21-16-4 all-time against Calgary, including a 6-12-2 mark at the Saddledome. The home team has won 17 of the last 21 meetings between the clubs.
• For Columbus, less is more in the shots on goal department. The Blue Jackets’ 48 shots on goal at Vancouver marked a club record for most shots on goal in a regulation game. It was the fourth time this season the club had 40-plus shots on goal - all regulation losses. Dating back to last season, the Jackets have lost 10-straight games, all in regulation, when firing 40-or-more shots on goal.
• LW Vinny Prospal is one point shy of 700 for his NHL career (233-466-699 in 1,001 games).
• Spread the wealth: a total of 22 players have scored at least one goal for Columbus, the most in the NHL. Buffalo and Vancouver are second with 20 players scoring at least one goal.
C - #11
• Feaster sees Backlund as the Flames’ top center of the future, and the 2007 first-round pick (24th overall) has the total skillset to make that projection a reality. The 22-year-old Swede has never been a big point-producer, but his two-way game has a lot of potential.
• Backlund missed the first 14 games of this season due to surgery on his left pinky finger in the preseason. Now back to full health, he figures to see the bulk of his ice time with Iginla in the Flames’ top six the rest of the season.
LW Kristian Huselius (upper body); indefinitely
D Radek Martinek (concussion); indefinitely