BLUE JACKETS (13-14-7) AT FLAMES (13-15-4)
SCOTIABANK SADDLEDOME | CALGARY, AB
9 P.M. TONIGHT
TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO (HD) | RADIO: 97.1 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM
The Blue Jackets will be the in-house guests for what may be the most unusual game in Calgary Flames franchise history tonight at the Saddledome.
Just 48 hours after trading their captain and best player of the past 16 years in Jarome Iginla, the Flames must re-group and take on a Blue Jackets club that's coming off a disappointing 6-4 loss to the Edmonton Oilers last night. It's a game that the Flames have to win to keep themselves in contention for a Western Conference playoff berth, not unlike what the Blue Jackets face, as well.
And like the Blue Jackets did on their recent four and five-game home stands at Nationwide Arena (going 8-0-2 over a 10-game stretch), the Flames are taking full advantage of home ice this season. Calgary is 10-5-2 at the Saddledome and in front of the "C" of Red this season, but like Columbus, has struggled on the road and it's kept both clubs on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. Both teams are 3-10-2 on the road in 2013, which isn't going to get it done.
What it sets up for is another one of those "biggest games of the season" tonight in Calgary.
Questions are abound on both sides, too: how will the Flames respond to what has been a whirlwind two-day stretch and move forward without a guy who has been their leader for more than a decade? On the other side, can the Blue Jackets rebound and tighten up defensively after yielding six goals last night in Edmonton? Columbus had three leads in the game against the Oilers but let it get away each time, and Ales Hemsky's go-ahead goal with 3:08 to play was the only lead of the night for Edmonton.
For the Flames, they're looking to build on momentum from a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night - a game in which they received quality goaltending from Joey MacDonald and some offense from Mike Cammalleri, whose pair of goals sparked the Flames against a speedy Avalanche club. With 11 goals on the year, Cammalleri is a guy the Flames will look to for goal-scoring with Iginla no longer part of the mix and he's always willing to shoot the puck.
Calgary is expected to go back to Miikka Kiprusoff for tonight's contest, while the Blue Jackets will start Steve Mason - who played well in relief of Sergei Bobrovsky last weekend in Nashville.
- The last meeting between these two clubs was a 5-1 win for the Blue Jackets exactly one week ago. After former Blue Jacket forward Curtis Glencross tied the game in the second period, Columbus ran off four unanswered goals to pull away. This is the third and final meeting of the year, and to this point, the Blue Jackets hold a 1-0-1 record against Calgary in the season series.
- Columbus got a big offensive boost from the Calvert-Anisimov-Atkinson line in Edmonton, which combined for four goals, four assists and both Anisimov/Atkinson had three point nights. The two goal, one assist performance from Atkinson was the first three-point outing of his NHL career.
- Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards dressed seven defensemen last night in Edmonton, mainly in an effort to help ease James Wisniewski back into the lineup. No Columbus blue liner played more than the 23:27 TOI logged by Jack Johnson and the minutes were spread up and down the roster. MIKE CAMMALLERI
LEFT WING | #13
2013 STATS: 11-13-24, 29 GP
As mentioned above, the Flames are going to need Cammalleri to continue on his torrid offensive pace if they're going to stay in the race -- and luckily for them, the 30-year-old sniper has always been a streaky scorer and appears to be heating up at the right time. Calgary re-acquired Cammalleri from Montreal in the middle of last season to boost their attack and he's contributed exactly what Flames management was looking for. Whenever this guy is on the ice, he's a threat to shoot the puck and with a world-class release like he has, it's no surprise how often he tests goaltenders.COLUMBUS:
Brandon Dubinsky (lower body), on IR; Nick Foligno (undisclosed), questionable; Derek Dorsett (clavicle), on IRCALGARY: