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Jones excited for season debut with Flames

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames are wasting no time seeing what they have in a rejuvenated Blair Jones.

Summoned from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League after the Flames dealt Tim Jackman to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, Jones is set to make his season debut for the Flames when they host the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Saddledome.

"I'm pretty excited," Jones said. "We had a pretty good roll going in the American league and to get back up here and get back in the game, it's fun."

Jones failed to crack the Flames' roster out of training camp this season but recharged his career with the Heat, leading the team with 20 points in 16 games before being called up.

"The message I told myself is don't go and sulk, it's not going to do you any good, so just work hard and play to your capabilities and good things will happen," he said. "I never got down on myself. I always believed in myself. I'm excited to get back here and get in the action and help the team."

A different attitude, among other reasons, has Jones back up with the Flames.

"I think that Blair changed a lot from last year," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "We had a great exit meeting last year. We told him a little bit what we wanted to see from him and right from training camp we saw his fitness was so much better, his attitude was better, his game was better.

"Unfortunately we got stuck in a numbers game at the end of camp. He went to [Abbotsford], was a leader, played very good, put on some points, played great 5-on-5, penalty killing. We felt he deserved a chance."

The 27-year-old took the exit meeting with Hartley in April to heart.

"I took a step back and realized what I needed to do to be successful," said Jones, who had one assist in 15 games with the Flames and seven points in 21 games in Abbotsford in 2012-13. "I had a great summer of training, just worked hard. I couldn't do anything about being sent down. I just had to go to [Abbotsford] and work hard and play my game. Things have been going well so I have a chance to be back up here and I'm going to make the most of it."

He'll get his first crack immediately, starting on the wing with Mikael Backlund and Brian McGrattan on the fourth line.

Hartley said he would try the right-handed Jones in a variety of situations.

"We're going to see him on [the penalty kill]," Hartley said. "Let's remember, we have four left-shot centermen and Blair can take some faceoffs so he can give that dimension. I think that we could see him on the power play, we could see him on penalty killing, we could see him for some shifts at center."

To make room in the lineup the Flames will scratch T.J. Galiardi, who has one goal and six points in 22 games and hasn't found the back of the net in his past 20 games.

"My job is to make decisions for the best of the organization and T.J. is a class guy. He works hard and means well but since the start of the year his play has gone down," Hartley said. "I told him to unplug, take a day off, work in the gym, clean up a little bit and tomorrow morning is another day."

The Panthers lost 4-1 to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, a game that cost Florida in more ways than one. Forward Tomas Kopecky left in the first period after sustaining an injury in a collision with Oilers defenseman Anton Belov and did not return. Then in the second Jesse Winchester was lost to injury. Both players are questionable for Friday and no updates were given regarding their status.

If they can't go, veteran forwards Sean Bergenheim and Scott Gomez could dress after being healthy scratches Thursday.

Here are the projected lineups for the Flames and Panthers:


Mike Cammalleri - Matt Stajan - Lee Stempniak

Sven Baertschi - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

Lance Bouma - Joe Colborne - David Jones

Blair Jones - Mikael Backlund - Brian McGrattan

Kris Russell - T.J. Brodie

Chris Butler - Dennis Wideman

Ladislav Smid - Shane O'Brien

Reto Berra

Karri Ramo

Scratched: TJ Galiardi, Derek Smith, Christopher Breen

Injured: Mark Giordano (broken ankle), Curtis Glencross (MCL sprain)


Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Tomas Fleischmann

Scottie Upshall - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes

Tomas Kopecky - Marcel Goc - Jesse Winchester

Jimmy Hayes - Shawn Matthias - Krys Barch

Tom Gilbert - Brian Campbell

Mike Mottau - Erik Gudbranson

Dmitry Kulikov - Matt Gilroy

Tim Thomas

Scott Clemmensen

Scratched: Scott Gomez, Sean Bergenheim

Injured: Ed Jovanovski (hip), Mike Weaver (illness)

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