Game Preview #1: Time to Light The Fire

Kirk Irwin

It's finally here! The Blue Jackets kick off their season at Nationwide tonight against the Calgary Flames.

Calgary Flames at Columbus Blue Jackets

October 4, 2013 - 7:00pm EDT
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Matchsticks and Gasoline
SBN's Flames vs Blue Jackets Coverage
Tickets (yes, there are some available here)

It's been five months. 159 days, to be exact. On that April night 159 days ago, the Blue Jackets left everything on the ice, got an unreal reception from their home fans, and finished just a tie-breaker out of the playoffs. Granted, it wasn't much in the grand scheme of things: they'd played well, but they still didn't make it. But, after a 5-12-2 start, to have finished 19-5-5 and still almost made it... it was a thing to behold.

And now, here it is, 159 days later. A new season dawns. With it, expectations. A goalie with a Vezina. A big free agent signing. A new conference and division. Most importantly, a clean slate. No hole to dig out of. A new day dawns for Columbus.

And, as the season opens, on paper it should get them off to a good start. Calgary is, to put it lightly, going to be awful this season. They roared out to an early 3-0 lead last night in Washington in the first period, and then proceeded to get outscored 4-1 the rest of the way and lose in a shootout. A glance up and down their roster does not provide one much of a spark. Curtis Glencross (remember him?) is a top line player. They're playing several rookies.

So, for the Jackets, it's a chance to come out and impose their will early. It's a chance to get back to the "never outworked" mantra, and to force a young and bad team to bend to that will. Most importantly, it's going to be a full house, so it's a chance to give all of those fans a reason to cheer again. After all, it's been 159 days.

Of note for Columbus, of course, is the beginning of two careers: Ryan Murray and Boone Jenner will be making their official NHL debuts tonight, with Jenner getting top-line duty. Will the rookies step up to the spotlight? Given the character of both guys (long-time Captains of their junior squads), I don't think it will be too big for them. We shall see.

No matter what, I'm positively giddy for the drop of the puck. It's been too long. 159 days. Let's do it!

UPDATE: Fedor Tyutin will not play tonight. He's being replaced in the lineup by David Savard. Look for Dalton Prout to jump up with Jack Johnson, and for Savard to play with Nikita Nikitin.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(0-0-0, 0 Points; t6th division, t13th conference)

Boone Jenner Brandon Dubinsky Marian Gaborik
Matt Calvert Ryan Johansen Cam Atkinson
Mark Letestu Artem Anisimov Blake Comeau
R.J. Umberger Derek MacKenzie Nick Foligno
Dalton Prout Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin David Savard
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

Calgary Flames
(0-0-1, 1 Point; 4th Division, 8th Conference)

Curtis Glencross Matt Stajan Lee Stempniak
Jiri Hudler Mikael Backlund T.J. Galiardi
Sven Baertschi Sean Monahan David Jones
Lance Bouma Ben Street Brian McGrattan
TJ Brodie Mark Giordano
Dennis Wideman Kris Russell
Chris Butler Shane O`Brien
Joey MacDonald
Karri Ramo

Season Series

10/04/13 - Calgary at Columbus
11/20/13 - Columbus at Calgary

2012-2013 Head to Head Stats

Calgary Columbus
2.67 (12) GPG 2.40 (25)
3.27 (28) GAPG 2.40 (9)
20.0% (9) PP% 14.2% (28)
81.5% (14) PK% 82.6% (11)
Curtis Glencross, 15 G leader Mark Letestu, 13
Lee Stempniak, 23 A leader three tied, 18
Lee Stempniak / Mike Cammalleri, 32 Pts leader Vinny Prospal, 30
Tim Jackman, 76 PIM leader Jared Boll, 100
6-16-2 Road/Home 14-5-5
10/3 @ Washington, L 5-4 (SO) Last Game ---
0-0-1 Last 10 0-0-0

Game Notes

  • Hey! Look Who It Is! - It's Kris Russell, back again visiting Columbus. The 26-year-old Little Shake found his way out of St. Louis after a lackluster season offensively (isn't that why he's in the lineup?). It seems like a lifetime ago that Columbus was hoping he'd turn into that end-to-end guy. He's still got the speed. He may be in hockey purgatory, however, in Calgary.
  • Get Loud - We saw in April how much of a force this building can be when it's full and everyone's into the action. Let's do that again tonight!
  • Can They Pick Up Where They Left Off? - It's a tough question to answer, since the Jackets finished the pre-season with a bit of a thud. They were playing at a crazy-high level last April. Can they get back to that? They get a team on the second night of a back-to-back in different cities, and a team that's not expected to do much of anything. The Jackets need to come out and smother the Flames early.

It's finally here! Let's get it started already!

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