The Western Canada road trip continues for the Jackets, as they continue their time in Alberta. Tonight, they battle the Flames.
The Flames have been a confusing team to watch this season. They were riding a six winning streak with Chad Johnson taking the reigns as the number one starter. Against Tampa Bay, they lost badly, and yanked Johnson.
The Flames goaltending has seemed to be the trouble piece of their season efforts thus far. Sticking with Johnson, he was an offseason signing from the Buffalo Sabres to help stopgap the horrible situation there last year. He was also slated to be the backup. So far, he has a 13-5-1 record; a 2.12 goals against average; and a 0.927 save percentage. Plus, he had three shutouts. Those are good stats for him.
Brian Elliot was an offseason trade acquisition from the St. Louis Blues for a second round pick (Jordan Kyrou) and a conditional third. Elliot was denied the starting opportunity in St. Louis with the number of goalies that came in and took his spot. Jaroslav Halak (NYI) was there at one point. Ryan Miller (VAN) was brought in for a successful (yet not) playoff run. Legendary netminder Martin Brouder was there for a short period of time. Jake Allen is the current number one. This season, he has a record of 3-9-1; with a 3.31 GAA and a 0.886 save percentage.
What does this mean for the Flames?
1. The goaltending has to be way better. There just seems to be no answer for them back there.
2. More scoring. If your goalies are allowing around three goals a game, you need to score four goals a game. The thing with the Flames' offense is that it's a young group with Johnny Gaudreau; Sean Monahan; Sam Bennett; and Matthew Tkachuk.
3. Shot blocking. It could be looked it, but they had a gut that could've done that for them, and let him go in Nicklas Grossmann.
Going back with the Flames offense, why is there so much scrunity around the young core up there? They have been great. Johnny Gaudreau has 20 points in 22 games. Johnny Hockey has seven points in his past five games (2 goals, 5 assists). He is currently on a six game point streak. His primary center, Sean Monahan, is right behind him in points with 18 (9 goals, 9 assists) in 32 games. Sam Bennett has 16 points (7 goals, 9 assists) 32 games. Rookie Matthew Tkachuk has 15 points (6 goals, 9 assists) in 15 games.
Plus, this team has three great defensemen in captain Mark Giordano; their leading defensive scorer in adoucir Hamilton; and speedy T.J. Brodie.
Columbus is riding on a major high alongside the rest of the Metropolitan Division. Columbus is looking for their eighth straight win, and tenth consecutive game where they earned a point.
Going with the theme of goaltending, Sergei Bobrovsky has been absolutely dominant this season. Bobs is 17-5-2 with a 1.94 GAA and a 0.934 save percentage. Absolutely startling this season. These numbers remind us of his Veznia winning year.
Their offense has been a scoring as a team mentality. Five guys on this team have 20 points or more- Alex Wennberg, Cam Atkinson, Sam Gagner, Brandon Saad, and Nick Foligno.
The next closest is the rookie sensation- defenseman Zach Werenski. Playing top minutes and playing against top talent every night at the young age of 19. Sticking with young defensemen, this team is loaded with them. All their guys are under the age of 30. Jack Johnson is 29, and he is the "veteran". Seth Jones; Ryan Murray; Markus Nutivarra; and Scott Harrington are at or are under the age of 23.
In terms of the lineups for tonight, Kris Versteg returns after missing the past couple of games with a lower body injury. According to Pat Steinberg of 960 THE FAN in Calgary, Chad Johnson will get the go tonight.
With Columbus, they are expected to have the same lineup that they had in Edmonton. Expect Bobs to get the go, but nothing has been confirmed.
Matthew Tkachuk--Mikael Backlund--Michael Frolik
Johnny Gaudreau--Sam Bennett--Alex Chaisson
Kris Versteeg--Sean Monahan--Troy Brouwer
Michael Ferland--Matt Stajan--Lance Bouma
Mark Giordano--Dougie Hamilton
T.J. Brodie--Dennis Wideman
Jyrki Jokipakka--Deryk Engelland
Scratched: Freddie Hamilton, Garnet Hathaway, Tyler Wotherspoon
Injured: Ladislav Smid
Columbus Blue Jackets
Brandon Saad--Alex Wennberg--Nick Foligno
Boone Jenner--Brandon Dubinsky--Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell--William Karlsson--Josh Anderson
Matt Calvert--Lukas Sedlak--Sam Gagner
Zach Werenski--Seth Jones
Jack Johnson--David Savard
Markus Nutivarra--Ryan Murray
Scratched: Scott Harrington, Oliver Bjorkstrand
Injured: David Clarkson, Dalton Prout
Players to Watch
CGY: Johnny Hockey. Since we see them less in the East, the star players will be drawn more attention too. And he is a star that has to be defended tonight hard in order to win.
CBJ: Boooooone. Jenner is on a great line, but his production has been subpar to it at the one third mark of the season. While the team is hot, there is no pressure on him, but when there is a dip, his goal scoring might be looked at.
Enjoy the games tonight.
More to come.
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