CALGARY, AB -- Winning just three of their first 10 games of the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets will be ornery when hosting the Calgary Flames at Nationwide Arena on Thursday.
The Blue Jackets (3-6-1) have struggled early this year in their quest to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.
The club went about adding depth after dealing captain Rick Nash to the New York Rangers in the offseason. The trade brought in the likes of Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky and Tim Erixon, but has yeiled the club minimal short-term success.
In fact, the team may be missing Nash’s offence after averaging just 1.90 goals-per-game – last in the NHL, and are 27th in shots generated with 26.5 per game. With such little offence being produced, the goaltending tandem of Sergei Bobrovsky and Steve Mason find themselves under that much more pressure to perform.
Despite their struggles, Columbus has always proved to be a test for Calgary. Most recently, the Blue Jackets nabbed seven of a possible eight points from the season series last year.
If Calgary looks to extend their winning ways to back-to-back games, they'll first have to conquer the cannon in Columbus.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
DefenCe - CBJ
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 3
SOG: 25 | +/-: -3
Acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Jeff Carter last season, Johnson has been giving the Blue Jackets all he has in averaging a league-leading 28:38 of ice time. That impressive figure includes back-to-back 34-plus minute games against the Kings and Detroit Red Wings coming into the contest against Calgary.
DefenCe - CBJ
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 8
SOG: 15 | +/-: -4
Perhaps a surprising leader offensively for the Blue Jackets, Tyutin leads all Columbus skaters in assists and points this season with seven and eight respectively. Tyutin, acquired in 2008 in a deal that sent Nikolai Zherdev to the New York Rangers, has never been a big-time point producer at the NHL level but is finding ways to contribute at both ends for Columbus.
DefenCe - CBJ
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 1
SOG: 0 | +/-: -1
A first round pick of the Flames (23rd overall) in 2009, Erixon was acquired by the Blue Jackets as part of the deal that sent franchise cornerstone Rick Nash to the New York Rangers. Erixon failed to stick in Columbus out of camp but has since been recalled and has one point in three games.
BY THE NUMBERS
Record This Season: 3-6-1
Calgary’s Record Head-To-Head Last Year: 1-1-2
Calgary’s Record All-Time: 21-18-0-5
Record Last Season: 29-46-7 (15th in Western Conference)
Who’s In: Artem Anisimov, Adrian Aucoin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Erixon, Nick Foligno
Who’s Out: Dane Byers, Mark Dekanich, Steven Delisle, Alexandre Giroux, Aaron Johnson, Mark Methot, Rick Nash, Curtis Sanford
Top Scorers vs. Flames: Nikita Nikitin – 2G 3A 5P
Flames Top Scorers: Blake Comeau – 1G 2A 3P