Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets are coming off a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night and the Flames are looking to capitalize on some tired legs tonight.
"I think the big challenge for us to have a good start," Lee Stempniak said. "If we can jump on them right away and sort of put them on their heels, it could be a huge advantage for us."
Stempniak's linemate Mikael Backlund concurred with the winger, saying the opening ten minutes could be the most crucial time of the game.
"We've just got to get our legs going," he stated. "Get our minds totally focused on the game and be really prepared to go.
"We've got to get pucks really deep early and play simple right from the start and everything else will come."
The last time these two teams met was on Dec. 1 in Calgary. The Blue Jackets were able to the last minute of regulation to tie the game and eventually won in a shootout.
In that instance, it was the Flames playing their second game in a back-to-back set and Calgary did look a tad tired in that third period. They know they will have to grind it out in that final frame if they want to force the Blue Jackets to make those mental errors borne from fatigue.
"The third period is big," Backlund admitted. "We've got to stick with it, be patient all night and hopefully we can wear them down in the end. We've got to play a full 60 minutes."
The Blue Jackets are owners of the worst record in the NHL, going 9-22-4 this year, and while they have won the first two games of the season series against the Flames, they are well aware of Calgary's current hot streak.
"They're a team that obviously has a lot of confidence right now," head coach Scott Arniel said after the Blue Jackets optional skate. "Any time you get a team that's feeling good about themselves, a team that's rested - they came in here yesterday, waiting for us - we're going to have to be smart against these guys."
Backlund also noted that the team is rolling right now and said they have to build off of their past three games if they want to leave Ohio with two points in hand.
"We've just got to play like we did against Vancouver and Detroit," the Swede smiled. "We're feeling really good right now."