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BLUE JACKETS at FLAMES
WEDNESDAY, 10 PM | SCOTIABANK SADDLEDOME
WATCH: FOX Sports Ohio
LISTEN: CD 102.5 FM & BlueJackets.com
On the second night of back-to-back games, the Blue Jackets could make some lineup changes before their game against the Calgary Flames at the Saddledome - some by necessity, others by choice.
They saw one important piece - rookie forward Boone Jenner - play his first game since Oct. 25 over the weekend in Ottawa, and after a Monday practice at Rexall Place, coach Todd Richards said he wasn't sure if Matt Calvert would be able to play in Alberta but they would continue to monitor the situation.
Aside from Calvert and Marian Gaborik (placed on injured reserve last week), the last big piece that the Blue Jackets are waiting on would be Nathan Horton. Horton isn't close to a return, but he is with the team on this road trip and took part in an optional skate on Monday in Edmonton.
As for the starting goaltender tonight, we'll know more after meeting with Richards, but he may opt to split starts with another game upcoming on Friday in Vancouver.
The Blue Jackets don't have the fondest of memories of the Calgary Flames. Add in last night's 7-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, and this should be one angry group of Blue Jackets.
After all, it was this surprising and upstart Flames squad ruined the opening night party in Columbus back on Oct. 4. Though Calgary has sputtered in recent weeks and begun to fall down the Western Conference standings, the Flames are a pesky and aggressive team that forces opponents to be on their game, for fear of it being a long night at the rink.
One thing the Flames like to do is stretch the ice, and the Blue Jackets got a strong dose of that on opening night. Calgary repeatedly used 100-foot passes (sometimes longer) to escape the zone and move the puck up the ice, forcing the Blue Jackets to play much of the game on their heels. It was a 2-2 tie into the third period, a deadlock that Jiri Hudler broke with under eight minutes to play; Hudler, down left wing, ripped a rising slap shot over the shoulder of Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Flames a 3-2 advantage, bringing a pronounced silence to what was earlier a very lively Nationwide Arena.
The Blue Jackets weren't happy with their performance in that game, and in the weeks since, have honed in on getting back to "Blue Jackets hockey" and the style that brought them success in 2012-13. In their 4-1 victory over the Senators on Sunday, the Blue Jackets were heavy on the forecheck, directed pucks at the net and out-worked the Senators for secondary opportunities. In facing a Flames club that saw a 2-0 lead vanish on home to rival Edmonton last weekend, the Blue Jackets know their opponent will be desperate to get back on track. As they always do, the Flames will look to push the pace and get the Jackets' defense turned around in an attempt to turn pucks over.
Puck management happens to be a big item on Richards' agenda as the Blue Jackets look to string wins together. During their periods of struggle this season, they have been guilty of poor decisions with the puck and the turnovers have come back to haunt them.
at VANCOUVER CANUCKS
FRIDAY, 10 P.M.