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PRE GAME: vs. Calgary

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets held an optional morning skate today in advance of tonight's game against the Calgary Flames at Nationwide Arena. It appears that coach Scott Arniel will employ the same line combinations and starting goaltender as he did last night in Chicago, although he did talk like there could be a player or two changing lines based on matchups.

That means Steve Mason is the likely starter in goal, and Grant Clitsome and Dane Byers are the healthy scratches.

Here is the projected Lightning lineup for tonight’s game at Nationwide Arena:

Glencross Jokinen Iginla
Bourque Backlund Stempniak
Comeau Horak Byron
Kostopolous Morrison Jackman
Hannan Smith
Butler Bouwmeester
Brodie Sarich
  1. Manage the energy: Back-to-back sets are difficult enough in the middle of a season, but coming off a three-day holiday break, the Blue Jackets need a fast start and involvement from all four lines. This means they must also stay out of the penalty box to keep their line rotation going.
  2. Get pucks through to the net, create traffic: Kiprusoff has had the Blue Jackets' number over the years, but Columbus got the better of the Finnish netminder the last time they met. It was Dec. 1 at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, where the Blue Jackets scored twice late in the third period to force overtime, and eventually won in a shootout. The key to success against Kiprusoff is to get pucks through traffic and make it hard on him to track the shot. If the Blue Jackets do that -- much like they did in the last meeting -- they stand a good chance of lighting the lamp.
  3. Work together: It sounds simple enough, but when the Blue Jackets have had success, they play as a five-man unit and win the battles all over the ice. In order to get back on that track, they need to get back to an aggressive forecheck and dictate the tempo against a Flames team that has been sitting in Columbus waiting for them to arrive.

Mark Letestu, on playing a team they've had success against this year: "I think we should be confident. We had a big comeback up there, and we've played well against them in this building. Hopefully there's some confidence and we look past what's gone on here the last couple of games. Hopefully the guys come to the rink tonight ready for a full-team effort."

Scott Arniel on the Flames' attitude tonight: "They're a team that's got a lot of confidence right now, certainly coming off two big wins against Vancouver and Detroit. We're going to have to be smart against these guys -- especially in the first 10 minutes with not allowing them to jump on us."

Here are some tips for fans attending the game at Nationwide Arena tonight:

• Doors will open at 6:00 p.m. for the 7:00 p.m. puck drop.

• Get a jump start on decorating your tree for next year – the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation’s Mystery Ornaments are 50% off. Pick one up at the Foundation Kiosk at Section 112.

• Don’t miss the pre-game ceremony tonight featuring the high school hockey clubs from around Columbus. Each grant recipient from the McConnell Education Foundation will take the ice with the Blue Jackets and Flames – spot your team on the ice!

• Speaking of Mr. Mac, his foundation isn’t his only contribution to the Blue Jackets. Stop by his retrospective at Section 101 to see all the Mr. McConnell gave to Columbus.

• Missed Jeff Carter’s Hat Trick from last Thursday? Stop by Section 103 for a look at all of the hats collected on the ice from past hat tricks at Nationwide Arena.

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