THE JETS ARE IN TOWN ... BUT IT'S JUST ANOTHER GAME
There is a ton of hype surrounding tonight's game with the Jets making their first appearance in the Saddledome since Mar. 31, 1996, Sven Baertschi playing his first NHL game and both teams in the midst of an intense battle for a playoff position but according to Olli Jokinen, the Flames are looking at this as just another game in the schedule.
"This is just a game for us. End of the day, all that matters is to get two points. We're at a point in the season (where) we can't really worry about who we play against or what kind of team we're going to face.
"The biggest thing for us is to play our game and do things right and stick with our team structure. Get two points and move on."
Jokinen has seen a few players in the Jets franchise when he was with the Florida Panthers and the organization was in Atlanta. While he made it clear the team could not get wrapped up in the spectacle, he noted it was nice to see the franchise thriving - something it never managed to do in Atlanta.
"It's good to see them back on the hockey map," he said. "It's good to see them do well ... They're playing in a market where people actually know about hockey and they care about hockey. A lot of these players, when they were in Atlanta, they were good players but the way the market was there, hockey wasn't the number one thing. (Most people) didn't know these players but they're a good team."
Defenceman Cory Sarich has a unique connection to the Jets franchise as he was on their radar as a rookie with the Saskatoon Blades.
"Winnipeg had a small little mini camp here, looking at prospects, guys that were potentially draft picks. I came into town for that and that was the last I heard of the Winnipeg Jets.
"It's nice to have another team up here (in Canada) and it looks like they've been doing great with attendance. That's great."
BAERTSCHI READY TO GO
Baertschi mania has swept through the city since the youngster was recalled from the Portland Winterhawks on Wednesday. Fans are anxious to see how the Flames 2011 first-round draft pick will do with the big club after lighting it up for the Winterhawks this season. The 19 year-old was feeling a bit nervous yesterday but those nerves have shifted into excitement now that he is just hours away from playing in his first NHL game.
"I slept a couple hours last night, just excited laying in bed, thinking about what could happen today," he smiled. "I'm really looking forward to today's game. It's my dream since I was a little kid so it's an exciting time for me."
Baertschi will be playing on a line with Tom Kostopoulos and Greg Nemisz. When asked what the line brings to the table, Kostopoulos said his style of play meshed well with the pair's when it came maintaining the defensive responsibility head coach Brent Sutter expects from his troops.
"I'm excited to play with the two young guys. They've been jumping in practice. They're very excited and ready to go," he said. "I kind of play more of a boring game. Pretty simple, get the puck in, so I think that combined with what they have offensively could be a good line."
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Matt Stajan needs 1 goal for 100. He also needs 6 games for 600.
Scott Hannan needs 4 points for 200. He also needs 7 games for 900.
Mark Giordano needs 8 assists for 100.
Kostopoulos needs 6 assists for 100.