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Game 36 Preview: In Search Of A Spark

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After a loss to the Division and Conference leading Blackhawks last night, the Jackets return to Nationwide in search of some kind of spark to re-ignite this team as they take on Calgary in the second night of a back to back.

The Flames, on the other hand, are looking at the Jackets with a wary sort of "There but for the grace of God" mentality. Though the Flames are looking at the playoffs from the outside at the moment, they've won their last three games and are poised to break in on the backs of Nashville and Dallas if they can string together a fourth.

After the Jackets called up Dane Byers yesterday the Falcons' captain ended up practicing but sitting out the actual game, so it will be interesting to see if he and Grant Clitsome, who was a healthy scratch on Tuesday, might draw back in for fresh legs.

We'd also normally suspect Curtis Sanford to get the start, but given his recent back issues that's less certain. We'll try to see what shakes out at this morning's optional skate.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

(9-22-4, 22 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)
Rick Nash Derick Brassard Antoine Vermette
Vinny Prospal Jeff Carter Derek Dorsett
R.J. Umberger
Samuel Pahlsson Ryan Johansen
Mark Letestu
Derek Mackenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Nikita Nikitin
John Moore
James Wisniewski
Marc Methot
Aaron Johnson
Curtis Sanford
Steve Mason


Calgary Flames
(17-15-4, 38 Points; 4th Division, 12th Conference)

Curtis Glencross Olli Jokinen Jarome Iginla
Rene Bourque Mikael Backlund Lee Stempniak
Paul Byron Roman Horak Blake Comeau
Tom Kostopoulos Brendan Morrison Tim Jackman
Jay Bouwmeester Chris Butler
Scott Hannan Derek Smith
T.J. Brodie Corey Sarich
Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

Season Series:

November 21, 2011 - CGY 1 CBJ 4
December 4, 2011 - CBJ 4 CGY 3 (SO)

By The Numbers:

Scoring
CGY - 2.50 G/G (20th)
CBJ - 2.37 G/G (26th)

Defense
CGY - 2.67 GA/G (14th)
CBJ - 3.37 GA/G (30th)

Power Play
CGY - 17.1% (18th)
CBJ - 15.4% (22nd)

Penalty Kill
CGY - 83% (13th)
CBJ - 74.8% (29th)

Game Notes:

  • Tonight's game is the second and last meeting at Nationwide between the two clubs this season, and the final game in the set won't come until mid-March. The memory of Calgary's late period collapse should be just fresh enough to stick in the back of their minds. Hopefully the Jackets can take advantage of it.
  • Injuries have taken away Alex Tanguay, Mark Giordano, Matt Stajan, and Anton Babchuk, but the Flames keep rolling. The Jackets could learn a thing or two here.
  • Despite the frustrating outcome, there were some good things in the Jackets' loss last night - a fair amount of traffic around the net, taking less penalties, winning faceoff battles, and blocking shots. If whomever is in net can stop more than 80% of the pucks thrown at him, the Jackets might actually have a good shot at winning if they can keep playing the same way.
  • The NHL's holiday roster freeze ends today. Will anything happen? Will the team give us a reason to expect anything more than the same diet of effluence? God, I hope so,