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Blue Jackets host Flames in opener

by Mike Battaglino /

FLAMES (0-0-1) at BLUE JACKETS (0-0-0)


Season series: The Columbus Blue Jackets got five of six points against the Calgary Flames last season, going 2-0-1 and winning the final two games in March by a combined score of 11-5.

Big story: The Blue Jackets play their first game as a member of the Eastern Conference against a former Western Conference foe. Columbus did not make the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season in the West, losing the final-spot tiebreaker to the Minnesota Wild. The Blue Jackets' 24-17-7 record was identical to that of the New York Islanders, who reached the postseason as the eighth seed in the East.

Team Scope:

Flames: Calgary opened its season Thursday with a disheartening 5-4 shootout loss at the Washington Capitals. Predicted by many to face a difficult rebuilding season, the Flames blitzed one of the Eastern Conference favorites, taking a 3-0 first-period lead.

"Very happy with the effort, obviously disappointed with the result," Flames coach Bob Hartley said, according to The Associated Press. "I told the boys, 'It's one thing to play in the NHL, and there's a different way to win in the NHL.'

"We're not going to start tonight on Game 1 saying, 'Oh, we're young' and this. There's absolutely no excuse."

Calgary led 4-1 midway through the second.

"It [stinks] to lose that one obviously with the lead we had," defenseman Mark Giordano told the Flames website. "But you get out to early leads, it's never safe in this League now, because of power plays and all that sort of stuff, and they made us pay …"

Four Flames had goals and 10 players had at least a point; Giordano had two assists.

"We don't have a superstar here so we obviously have to do it by committee," Giordano said.

Blue Jackets: Columbus has not played a game since a 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes last Friday that ended the preseason on a three-game skid.

"[The Flames] might have an advantage early," coach Todd Richards told the Columbus Dispatch. "But if we play the right way, we'll have an advantage later in the game."

The Blue Jackets are looking to build on a 19-5-5 finish to last season that left them one point shy of the playoffs. They did have more points (55) than three of the eight teams in the new Metropolitan Division.

"I think everyone in that [dressing] room believes we can be a better team than we were last year at the finish," Richards said. "Over an 82-game season, we believe that we can contend for the playoffs and contend for the Stanley Cup."

Columbus will attempt to take advantage of being unknown to most of the teams, and fans, in the Eastern time zone.

"I'm sure there's been some rumblings about us because down the stretch we were one of the hottest, if not the hottest, team," forward Cam Atkinson told the newspaper. "But I think there is nothing better than being an underdog in any sport at any level. That's kind of where you want to remain. You never want to think you've made it. You never want to be satisfied."

Forward Boone Jenner and defenseman Ryan Murray will make their NHL debut.

Injury report: Flames forward Mike Cammalleri (hand) is out. … Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin (lower body) did not practice Thursday and will be a game-day decision. Defenseman Nikita Nikitin (illness) is probable. Forwards Jared Boll (upper body) and Nathan Horton (shoulder) are out.

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