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Game #47 Preview: Blue Jackets kick off Western Canada road trip in Calgary

Johnny Gaudreau makes his return to The Saddledome

NHL: DEC 09 Flames at Blue Jackets Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Columbus Blue Jackets at Calgary Flames
Monday, January 23, 2023 - 9:30 PM ET
Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta
TV: ESPN+/Hulu - Radio: WBNS FM
Opponent’s Blog: Matchsticks & Gasoline

Columbus Blue Jackets, 13-30-2, 28 points, 8th Metro, 16th East
@
Calgary Flames, 22-16-9, 47 points, 5th Pacific, 9th West

The Columbus Blue Jackets are back at it tonight in Alberta, squaring off with the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome. A game that would normally have very little fanfare any other year, will be anything but quiet on this Monday night. The former face of the Flames franchise, Johnny Gaudreau, makes his return to the place he called home for nearly a decade.

The Blue Jackets are coming off a win in front of a large hometown crowd. It was a feel good Saturday evening in front of a sellout crowd, so let’s see if they can carry the strong performance in their last two periods into tonight’s matchup. The boys should be fired up to help make Gaudreau’s night a little bit more pleasant. The fans are going to try their best to make it a long night for their former superstar. This is definitely THE date Gaudreau had circled on his calendar.

Player to Watch

Johnny Gaudreau

Emotions will undoubtedly be high for Johnny Hockey. They will range across the spectrum from the more than likely standing ovation, to the relentless boos thereafter. For a year that will most likely be lacking story lines as we trudge toward the finish line, tonight’s game is one of the best.

Usually when former Jackets come return to Nationwide they tend to hurt their former club. It would be nice to be on the other side of that for a change. I am really curious to see how #13 rises to the occasion in what will be one of the most surreal nights of his career.

Also, how did it take over three months for Gaudreau to score on the power play?

Jackets Notes

This is the first game of the Western Canada swing that will also have the Blue Jackets stopping in Seattle before heading home. Columbus plays 4 games in 6 days, so in theory the energy should be high in this one at least.

It was a win last game, so I’d presume Larsen doesn’t do anything to rock the boat in terms of lines. He will have his guys run it back to see if they can win back-to-back games for the first time in well over a month. I’d assume Korpisalo stays in net as well to try and ride the “hot hand.”

The Other Bench

Calgary is in a dogfight in the Pacific division. They are currently out of a playoff spot, but hovering right around the threshold within striking distance. They’ve been playing .500 hockey lately, but are coming off a big win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. As if the Flames needed anymore motivation tonight in addition to Gaudreau’s return, they desperately need every last point in the bank in the back half of the season.

The Flames also most likely remember dropping the first game of the season series, and do not want to be swept by the worst team in the league.

Season Series

12/9/22 CGY 1 @ 3 CBJ
1/23/23 CBJ @ CGY

Stats

Calgary Columbus
3.09 (20) GPG 2.60 (30)
2.84 (14) GAPG 3.72 (30)
20.0% (23) PP% 14.9% (31)
82.7% (6) PK% 77.8% (17)
55.5% (2) 5v5 Shot Attempt % 45.28% (29)
55.5% (2) 5v5 Unblocked shot attempt % 45.15% (29)
7.83% (26) 5v5 Shooting % 7.89% (25)
.906 (26) 5v5 Save % .901 (30)
Nazem Kadri, 18 G Leader P. Laine & J. Gaudreau, 13
Elias Lindholm, 28 A Leader Johnny Gaudreau, 31
Elias Lindholm, 42 P Leader Johnny Gaudreau, 44
Nikita Zadorov, 43 PIM Leader Mathieu Olivier, 61
9-8-7 Home / Road 3-15-1
5-3-2 Last 10 3-7-0

Projected Lines

Columbus Blue Jackets

Johnny Gaudreau Boone Jenner Kirill Marchenko
Gustav Nyquist Jack Roslovic Patrik Laine
Kent Johnson Cole Sillinger Emil Bemstrom
Eric Robinson Sean Kuraly Mathieu Olivier
Vladislav Gavrikov Adam Boqist
Tim Berni Erik Gudbranson
Nick Blankenburg Andrew Peeke
Joonas Korpisalo
Elvis Merzlikins

Calgary Flames

Dillon Dube Elias Lindholm Tyler Toffoli
Milan Lucic Nazem Kadri Jonathan Huberdeau
Andrew Mangiapane Mikael Backlund Blake Coleman
Jakob Pelletier Trevor Lewis Walker Duehr
Noah Hanifin Rasmus Andersson
Mackenzie Weegar Chris Tanev
Nikita Zadorov Michael Stone
Jacob Markstrom
Dan Vladar

Let’s go Jackets!