The Columbus Blue Jackets continue on their journey through Western Canada Friday when they take on the Calgary Flames. Both teams come in as two of the hottest in the league in their last 10 games, with Columbus going 8-1-1 and Calgary going 7-2-1. Both teams enter Friday’s contest in the first wildcard spot in their respective conferences, although the Blue Jackets have six more points in the standings.
Last time out, the Blue Jackets weathered an early storm from the Edmonton Oilers and skated away with a 3-1 win at Rogers Place. Sam Gagner, Cam Atkinson and Matt Calvert each scored goals, while goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky continued his recent dominance, stopping 33 of 34 shots in earning first-star honors. Nick Foligno returned to the lineup after a two-game absence. I wouldn’t expect any lineup changes for Columbus Friday.
Calgary lost their last game 6-3 to Tampa Bay. After taking an early 1-0 lead, the Lightning struck for five unanswered goals, including two from Brian Boyle 3:38 apart midway through the first period. The loss broke the Flames six-game winning streak. According to the Fan 960’s Pat Steinberg, practice lines and pairs remained the same. Chad Johnson worked in the starter’s crease, so he is likely to start against the Blue Jackets.
Columbus Blue Jackets at Calgary Flames
Scotiabank Saddledome – 9:00 p.m. EST
TV Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go and Sportsnet West
Radio Broadcast Channels: 97.1 The Fan and Sportsnet 960 The Fan
Columbus Blue Jackets: 18-5-4, 40 points.
Road Record: 8-2-3
Hot Players: Sergei Bobrovsky, Sam Gagner, Alexander Wennberg
Key Injuries: David Clarkson (on LTIR)
Brandon Saad-Alexander Wennberg-Nick Foligno
Boone Jenner-Brandon Dubinsky-Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell-William Karlsson-Josh Anderson
Matt Calvert-Lukas Sedlak-Sam Gagner
Zach Werenski-Seth Jones
Jack Johnson-David Savard
Markus Nutivaara-Ryan Murray
Sergei Bobrovsky (Expected Starter)
Calgary Flames: 16-14-2, 34 points.
Home Record: 7-8-0
Hot Players: Johnny Gaudreau, Chad Johnson
Key Injuries: Ladislav Smid (neck, out for season)
Kris Versteeg-Sean Monahan-Troy Brouwer
Johnny Gaudreau-Sam Bennett-Alex Chiasson
Matthew Tkachuk-Mikael Backlund-Michael Frolik
Michael Ferland-Matt Stajan-Lance Bouma
Mark Giordano-Dougie Hamilton
T.J. Brodie-Dennis Wideman
Jyrki Jokipakka-Derek Engelland
Chad Johnson (expected starter)
1) The Blue Jackets enter Friday’s game with a seven-game winning streak and a nine-game point streak, both tied for the third longest such streaks in club history. A big reason for this is their dominance in the third period. In their last 14 games, the Blue Jackets have outscored their opponents a staggering 22-4 in the final frame, including 6-0 in their last two games.
2) The Blue Jackets are showing that they love playing on the road in the early going. They come into Friday with an 8-2-3 road record, which is the best road points percentage in the NHL. They’ve won four straight away from Nationwide Arena and have points in seven straight (6-0-1).
3) The Blue Jackets have not tasted a regulation loss since November 23rd. That was the last time they played the Calgary Flames. The Flames won 2-0 that night, thanks to a 34-save shutout by goaltender Chad Johnson. Johnson enters Friday as one of the hottest goalies in the NHL, posting a 13-5-1 record, with a 2.12 goals-against and a save percentage of .928.
4) Despite missing 10 games with a broken finger, Johnny Gaudreau leads the offensive attack for the Flames. He leads the team in scoring with 7-13-20 and has points in five straight games (2-7-9.) This will be Gaudreau’s fourth career game against the Blue Jackets, posting 1-1-2 in the previous three games.
This should be a fun, entertaining game. Expect Columbus to have a little chip on their shoulders for this one because they’re playing the team that last beat them in regulation. Calgary will look to quickly move past Wednesday’s defeat so they can start a new streak. For Columbus to have success, they must get traffic in front of Johnson. The Lightning scored three of their goals with bodies in front of him. Calgary must take advantage of their opportunities when presented to them, as they did in Columbus. A Blue Jackets win would give John Tortorella his 499th win, with a chance to get number 500 in Vancouver, his old stomping grounds.