Morning Skate Report: Flames vs. Blue Jackets
CAMMALLERI A GAME-TIME DECISION
Mike Cammalleri did not skate on Wednesday (maintenance) and while he did participate in the optional morning skate today, head coach Bob Hartley said the winger will be a game-time decision.
If Cammalleri is good to go, the Flames will be icing the same lineup they used in Detroit on Tuesday. The projected lines and defensive pairings are as follows:
KEEPING THE JACKETS TO THE OUTSIDE
After their morning skate, several Columbus players said the team's focus tonight will be putting as many pucks on net as possible, looking to generate more close-range chances or to catch Leland Irving off guard.
The Flames defensive zone coverage in Detroit was strong with the blueliners using their sticks well, cutting off passing lanes and keeping the forecheckers to the outside. According to Mark Giordano, the team has to play the exact same way they did against the Red Wings and not focus on trying to alleviate pressure on the rookie netminder. If they think too much about how they're playing in front of Irving, their entire game will be off.
"We have to play our system," he told CalgaryFlames.com this morning. "Our system has been working well the last few games. If we're going to give up anything, it's better to give it up from the outside.
"We have a lot of confidence in Irv going into tonight. He's played games with us before. It's not like it's his first game. We just have to play our same game. We can't play any differently and we're not going to in front of Irv."
NOT LOOKING IN THE PAST
The Flames track record in Columbus (7-14-1) isn't great but that history means nothing to Hartley.
"Elvis is dead and Wayne Gretzky got traded. I don't look in the (past). There is no reason to, good or bad, because every game is a different challenge. I'm fully aware, I've heard about it but I don't really care."
Calgary's last win in Nationwide Arena was on Dec. 27, 2011.
FLAMES FANTASY HOCKEY TIPS
When selecting your Flames Fantasy Hockey roster today, you may want to grab a couple of these players to bolster your lineup.
Jarome Iginla is only current Flame to average over a point-per-game against the Blue Jackets. In 44 contests, the winger has sniped 24 goals and posted 49 points. The captain is heading into the bout riding a two-game point streak as well. He scored his first goal of the season in Detroit on Tuesday and picked up an assist against Chicago on Saturday.
The Flames leading scorer Alex Tanguay has also been a thorn in Columbus' side throughout his career, averaging 0.83 points-per-game. He also has points in his last six games (3 goals, 5 assists) and has recorded two multi-point games already.
Rounding out the top three is Mike Cammalleri. The forward hasn't found his offensive groove quite yet this year but that could all change tonight given his past success against the Blue Jackets. In 20 contests, Cammalleri has 9 goals and 17 points - good for a 0.85 points-per-game average.
Starting goaltender Leland Irving has never faced the Blue Jackets in his career. The 24 year-old has played 20:00 this year, stopping all six shots he faced in Detroit on Tuesday night.
JACKETS LINEUP NOTES
The Blue Jackets back-end will have the services of Nikita Nikitin tonight as he returns to the lineup as he is coming off of the injured reserve list. He was retroactively placed on IR after sustaining an upper body injury on Jan. 29 in a game against the Minnesota Wild.
Nikitin was Columbus' leading scorer against the Flames last season, scoring five points in four games.
Columbus will be without Cam Atkinson and former Flame Adrian Aucion tonight. Both are on the injured reserve. James Wisniewski (upper body) is unlikely for tonight's tilt.
On Tuesday, Columbus activated winger Matt Calvert off of the injured reserve and assigned forward Jonathan Audy-Marchessault to the Springfield Falcons (AHL).
Pivot Ryan Johansen was assigned to the Springfield Falcons (AHL) yesterday after amassing just two assists in 10 games.
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
Mikael Backlund needs 1 point for 50.
Mark Giordano needs 1 assist for 100.
Lee Stempniak needs 2 assists for 150.
Curtis Glencross needs 2 assists for 100, 2 goals for 100 and 4 points for 200.
Mike Cammalleri needs 3 goals for 200.