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First chance for fans to see Jagr skate in a Flames jersey at the Scotiabank Saddledome

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

This isn't your typical, routine Game 5 on the handy-dandy pocket calendar.

Not. Even. Close.

There's a Dolby Stereo-level buzz, a seismic current of anticipation, circulating around town.

Across the city over the past week, mullets have suddenly become trendy again, all the fashion, and those all-the-rage 68 jerseys are fairly flying off Fan Attic shelves.

"Should be pretty wild, I'd imagine,'' grinned skipper Mark Giordano on Friday morning, as the media mob began to cluster around a still-vacant stall a few feet down and to the captain's right inside the Flames' inner sanctum. "No matter what you say, no matter how long you've been around, it's a pretty cool experience to be playing with a guy like that.

"I'm sure there'll be a lot of energy tonight. We're expecting a nice reception for him and we're hoping he has a great game.

"I'm looking forward to it, hearing that crowd when he comes out of the tunnel.

"Our fans want to see him."

Him, of course, being Jaromir Jagr.

Tonight, if you've been hiding from humanity in a Tibetan cave or encased in cryogenic chamber somewhere, marks the home debut in Flames' silks of the game's second all-time leading scorer.

"This is new to me. To all of us,'' said assistant coach Martin Gelinas. "He commands a lot of attention. And that's good. That's exciting. 

"This isn't like adding just 'another' player. He's in a select class, up there with the Gretzkys and Lemieuxs. How many times do you add a Hall-of-Famer to your team?

"It'll be great tonight. Everybody's pulling for him. The players are pulling for him. The fans are pulling for him. The coaching staff is pulling for him, too.

"Because if he's what we all think he can be, he makes our team better."

Video: Jagr talks about what he expects from the game

Forty-eight hours after marking his first game as a Flame, in that pulsating 4-3 OT victory at L.A., Jagr reiterated that there's penalty of room for personal upgrade.

"I wanted to play better than I did, to be honest,'' he admitted. "Hopefully tonight I'm gonna be better and move forward.

"Conditioning … it's part of that. But get the timing of the game. I didn't play for six months. I didn't have a scrimmage. Nothing.

"So the timing, the flow of the game … sometimes you need to slow down or go quicker. No matter how many games you've played, it's a long break."

Countryman Michael Frolik knows the wait will be worth it.

"It's not easy for him. Me, myself, I always need a couple games, a few good practices, before I starting feeling good ..."

A teasing smile.

"And he's 20 years older.

"But every day he feels better. Every day it's going to get better.

"Tonight should be fun. Everybody will go crazy, I'm sure."

Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan was more than satisfied with Jagr's contribution to the cause at the Staples Center, particularly given the unusual circumstances.

"He needs game time. We've all been to L.A. and guys that have played against that team, it's a hard, heavy game. It was a good 13 minutes for him. That's what he needs right now. Managing his minutes is still something we'll do. That'll be important. Every game you get in, with no training camp, those minutes are valuable.

"So I expect the same type of minutes and a better game."

A debut game in front of the faithful.

And should No. 68 find a way to prod, poke or cajole the puck into the Ottawa Senator's net at some juncture over the 60-65 allotted minutes this evening?

Well, the saddle-shaped roof might be inverted on the strength of sheer decibel volume.

"Oh, the place will go … off,'' said linemate Kris Versteeg. "That'd be the perfect script, wouldn't it?

"It was crazy to see the reception he got the other day at the home-opener.

"A standing ovation, and he comes out in a suit, isn't even playing. Pretty damned amazing.

"I mean, who gets that?"

Jaromir Jagr, that's who.

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