The Calgary Flames are certainly dodging a bullet. Many were holding their breath when it comes to the injury status of defenceman TJ Brodie, but the news is pretty good all things considered. Brodie suffered a lower body injury in Calgary’s 4-1 win over Carolina on Wednesday night after blocking a Justin Faulk slapshot right above the knee. Brodie will play tonight, though, so the Flames won’t have to worry about losing one of their most important players for any period of time. With Brodie in the lineup, Calgary will welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight (7 pm, Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960).
Calgary Flames 22-24-3, 6th Pacific Division
With Brodie playing tonight, the Flames will stick with the same blueline group they won with on Wednesday night. Jakub Nakladal was recalled by the team on Wednesday morning, but won’t play tonight. Head Coach Bob Hartley was asked about not getting Nakladal in the lineup and the response was fairly simple. With where the Flames are in the standings, Hartley says they don’t have the benefit of trying things out right now. With the team playing tomorrow in Vancouver, we may yet see Nakladal make his NHL regular season debut this weekend. This will also be game two of Dennis Wideman’s 20 game suspension which is currently being appealed.
Calgary’s win over the Hurricanes on Wednesday was the type of game they’d like to replicate on a very regular basis. There was basically nothing to quibble with two nights ago, as the Flames got off to a great start and carried it through for virtually 60 minutes. Calgary was very good on special teams as they scored twice on the powerplay and killed off all five powerplay opportunities for the Hurricanes. The team looked engaged right from the get-go and forced Carolina to create turnovers and chase them. It’s not going to happen like that every night, but the way Calgary skated is something they can look to duplicate again tonight.
Wednesday night’s win over Carolina was also an encouraging one for Calgary’s top line. Not only did Monahan record his first ever four point and three assist game, he also played on a line that looked like the dominant force it was a year ago. That trio of Monahan, Gaudreau, and Hudler was one of the NHL’s most dangerous groupings in the second half of last season. With eight points combined two nights ago, they looked very much that dangerous. The problem is, that hasn’t been the case on a consistent basis. The key there is Hudler, and if he can keep on playing the way he has the last four games or so, this could bode very well for the Flames in the final couple months of the season.
For the sixth straight game, Karri Ramo gets the call in net for the Flames. With a game in Vancouver tomorrow, it’ll be very interesting to see if Calgary goes to Jonas Hiller for the second half of the back-to-back or allows Ramo to start a third game in four nights. Whatever the case, Ramo got the job done against the Hurricanes on Wednesday; he stopped 28 of 29 shots fired his way. On the season, Ramo sits 17-17-1 with a 2.57 goals against average and a 0.911 save percentage.
Columbus Blue Jackets 20-28-5, 8th Metropolitan Division
The Blue Jackets are coming off a hard fought 2-1 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. All in all, though, it’s been a trying year in Columbus. The Jackets will almost certainly miss the playoffs for a second consecutive year and are currently the league’s 30th placed team with just 45 points. It’s tough to explain why things have been as miserable as they’ve been this year, too. I’m not saying Columbus should be fighting for a division title, but to see them in the mix for the first overall pick again is somewhat surprising.
It seems like Jones has fit in just fine upon his arrival in Columbus. Jones will play his 13th game with the Blue Jacket’s tonight after being acquired last month from the Nashville Predators for Ryan Johansen. The 21-year-old defenceman has six points in his first 12 games with Columbus, but more importantly, he’s averaging 24:14 of ice time per night which is second only to Johnson’s season average. It’s likely that Jones is still getting comfortable with his new team, which means the best is definitely still to come.
Joonas Korpisalo was the story last night in Vancouver. The Columbus goalie made 37 saves in their shootout win over the Canucks in one of the 21-year-old’s finest NHL performances to date. Korpisalo has been pressed into action thanks to injuries to both Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney in net. To this point, Korpisalo has done okay for such little experience. He’s 6-6-2 in this first 14 NHL appearances and has a 2.77 goals against average and a 0.916 save percentage. With Columbus playing last night they didn’t skate in Calgary this morning so we aren’t sure if they’ll go with Korpisalo for a second straight night or not. If they don’t, Anton Forsberg would get the call instead.