|Following a 4-1 loss to the Blue Jackets in late November at Nationwide Arena, Flames coach Brent Sutter said there were no requests anymore – he was going to start demanding results from his group and expressed displeasure with his team’s competitiveness. |
Calgary’s play picked up after that, but experienced another dip in the middle of December despite starting the month with a 4-1-1 record. In their past three games, the Flames have earned victories over three of the top teams in the Western Conference: home wins over Minnesota and Detroit, then a big road win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena prior to the NHL’s Christmas break.
The Flames are led in scoring by Olli Jokinen, who has picked up the pace after a slow start to his season. The 33-year-old Finn is currently riding a six-game points streak in which he has collected nine points and three multi-point games (4G, 5A), and was a significant factor in Calgary’s victory in Vancouver. Right behind Jokinen is the ageless Jarome Iginla, who’s 13 goals slot him second on the Flames behind former Blue Jackets winger Curtis Glencross. The Calgary captain is always a threat to shoot the puck and score, but even more so since he’s been paired with Jokinen in recent games.
Alex Tanguay, who has enjoyed success against the Blue Jackets over the years, is not traveling with the Flames and will not play tonight due to injury. Calgary recalled forward Brett Carson from the Abbotsford Heat in case another body is needed up front. Tanguay had been playing regularly with Iginla prior to injury, but got hurt blocking a shot last week against the Minnesota Wild and is considered day-to-day.
Columbus comes into tonight’s game playing the second of back-to-back games out of the two-day break, and will look to get back on track after a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks last night. The Blue Jackets have lost five straight games, but are 2-0-0 against the Flames this season – the most recent being a 4-3 shootout win at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Dec. 1. Trailing 3-1 with less than five minutes to play, the Blue Jackets scored twice to force overtime and escaped with two points after Rick Nash’s shootout winner.
| || || |
|Carter, Nash (10) ||Glencross (14) |
|Prospal (20) ||Jokinen (18) |
|Prospal (27) ||Jokinen (30) |
|Dorsett (73) ||Jackman (46) |
|MacKenzie (+8) ||Horak (+5) |
|Sanford (5-6-3) |
|Kiprusoff (16-11-2) |
|Sanford (2.66) ||Kiprusoff (2.47) |
|Sanford (.908) ||Kiprusoff (.916) || |
|• James Wisniewski scored the only Blue Jackets goal last night in Chicago, and has been a regular on the scoresheet of late. He scored his first goal in 15 games on a backhander in the third period against the Blackhawks, and has points in six of the last 11 games with 1-6-7 during that stretch. |
• A total of 24 players have scored at least one goal for Columbus, the most in the NHL. Buffalo is second with 22 players scoring at least one goal.
• Prior to last night’s game, the Blue Jackets had power play goals in five of the last six games (8-of-26, 30.8 percent) after going 1-for-22 (4.5 percent) the previous six games.
• Tonight’s game is the third of four meetings between the Blue Jackets and Flames this season. Columbus is 2-0-0 against the Flames, winning one game at both Nationwide Arena and the Scotiabank Saddledome. The final meeting of the year is March 18, 2012 in Calgary.
• Nikita Nikitin continues to be a solid, under-the-radar pickup for Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson: the Russian defenseman has assists in three of the last five with a helper December 22 at Nashville, and has set career highs in assists and points. All of his points coming in 19 games with Columbus, and he has played 23-plus minutes in all but three games.
LW - #20
• After being traded by the Blue Jackets to the Edmonton Oilers in 2008, Glencross elected to got to free agency and signed a contract with the Flames. It turned out to be a wise decision, and he’s become a go-to player for coach Brent Sutter.
• Glencross leads the Flames in goals and has a knack for going to the “tough areas” to score, and has shown versatility in playing power play, penalty kill and even-strength minutes for Calgary.
D Radek Martinek (concussion); indefinitely
LW Kristian Huselius (lower body); indefinitely