With the insanity of the last two days behind them, the Calgary Flames are right back at it tonight when they play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets (7 pm, Sportsnet 960 and Sportsnet West). Jarome Iginla is no longer with the team, and while they played without him in Wednesdays’ 4-3 win over Colorado, I think it’s safe to say the “post-Iginla” era in Calgary starts tonight.
The Flames will look to extend their home winning streak to nine games tonight, which would be the longest home winning streak for the team since November and December of 2006 when they won ten consecutive games on home ice. Knowing this team has already set a new franchise record this season for consecutive road losses at ten (and counting), their home winning stretch is even tougher to wrap your head around.
This is the final meeting of the season between the Flames and Blue Jackets and only meeting this year at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The Flames are 1-1 against Columbus this year and are coming off a 5-1 loss at Nationwide Arena one week ago. That game seemed to be the one that solidified Calgary’s organizational pivot, although the shift in philosophy had been a number of seasons in the works.
Calgary Flames 13-15-4, 14th Western Conference
Curtis Glencross-Matt Stajan-Lee Stempniak
Alex Tanguay-Mike Cammalleri-Blake Comeau
Jiri Hudler-Mikael Backlund-Roman Cervenka
Brian McGrattan-Steve Begin-Tim Jackman
Jay Bouwmeester-T.J. Brodie
Mark Giordano-Dennis Wideman
Chris Butler-Cory Sarich
The Flames won’t make any changes tonight other than in net, where they’ll go back to Miikka Kiprusoff after giving him a night off on Wednesday. Prior to that game, Kiprusoff had faced 73 shots in two games against the Blues and Blackhawks, winning one and losing the other. They were by far his two best back-to-back outings of the season and gave fans hope that his game might be coming around. His numbers won’t be flattering this year regardless, but a strong finish could be huge for Calgary staying in and around the Western Conference pack.
Cammalleri is coming off a two goal game against the Avalanche, scoring the winner in the second period. It was his third multi-goal game of the season and also served to snap an eight game stretch without a goal for Calgary’s second leading scorer. Tanguay didn’t take part in practice on Thursday afternoon after suffering an injury against Colorado; he returned in the game and was part of morning skate today. Tanguay is expected to play tonight.
The Flames will not be naming a new captain this season with the departure of Jarome Iginla. The team will have three alternates per game, rotating through four players: Giordano, Bouwmeester, Glencross, and Cammalleri. They’ll name a new captain for next season, which is what many expected they would do.
Columbus Blue Jackets 13-14-7, 13th Western Conference
Nick Foligno-Ryan Johansen-R.J. Umberger
Vaclav Prospal-Derick Brassard-Mark Letestu
Matt Calvert-Artem Anisimov-Cam Atkinson
Colton Gillies-Derek MacKenzie-Jared Boll
Jack Johnson-Fedor Tyutin
Dalton Prout-Nikita Nikitin
James Wisniewski-Adrian Aucoin
The Blue Jackets will be playing on night two of a back-to-back set this evening, coming off a 6-4 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. It was a game where they held numerous leads but were unable to close out the Oilers. The result left the conference with four teams at 33 points, tied for 10th including both Columbus and Edmonton along with Dallas and Phoenix. The Blue Jackets, however, have the fewest regulation/overtime losses in the West with just nine. That puts them behind the eight ball when it comes to any tiebreaking situations, as shootout wins are removed from the equation. The Jackets have won four of their 13 games in the shootout.
Columbus got some good news prior to last night’s game in Edmonton, as they saw Wisniewski return to the lineup after missing 14 contests with a broken foot. The Jackets are now without only Brandon Dubinsky (lower body) and Derek Dorsett (fractured clavicle) due to injury. Overall, Columbus has lost 100 man games this season with injuries.
Steve Mason will get the start in net for Columbus tonight, his first since March 5th. Sergei Bobrovsky, who has been the biggest reason for a Jackets resurgence, had started 11 consecutive games since Mason’s last start. Overall, Mason is 2-6-1 with a 2.85 goals against average and a 0.901 save percentage this season.