The Flames head into the historically unfriendly Nationwide Arena this evening to take on the Blue Jackets (5PM MT, Sportsnet West) for the second half of back-to-back games after falling to the Detroit Red Wings last night in Motown, a game in which Mikael Backlund shone for the visitors, scoring his first two goals of the season. The Flames sit at .500 after six games in the early going, not a disastrous mark by any means, especially considering some of the opposition they've faced, but after letting last night's game slip away from them, it certainly could be better. The Jackets are 3-2 after beating the Ducks on Wednesday thanks to a 31-save performance by Steve Mason and a two-goal effort by Rick Nash. The Jackets may be rested, but like the Flames, they are missing some regulars; former Flame Mike Commodore is out of the lineup tonight, as are forwards Kris Russell, Andrew Murray, Jared Boll, and Ethan Moreau.
The hot topic in Flames news today is Brent Sutter's decision to bench Olli Jokinen last night in Detroit; the centre barely played after his giveaway led to the game winning goal by Johan Franzen in the third period, and he has just one assist in six games so far this season. It was a decision not opposed by many Flames supporters around these parts, and I suppose we'll see if it does anything to light a fire under the slumbering Finn in upcoming contests. Also of note for the Flames are the debuts of two players tonight: back-up goaltender Henrik Karlsson (a.k.a. The Calgary Tower) will start in net tonight for the visitors after setting tongues wagging in pre-season, while the club's newest acquisition Brendan Mikkelson (picked up on waivers from the Ducks earlier this week) will take the place of Steve Staios on the blueline, as Cory Sarich's play since being inserted into the lineup has made sitting Staios, who has been downright awful since his return to the lineup, an easy choice. It'll be interesting to see how Mikkelson, a second round draft pick of the Ducks in 2005, fares in his first game with his new club, as the 23-year-old had one assist and 7PIMS, and was -1 in five games with Anaheim this season before being placed on waivers.
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Enjoy the game everyone and curse Olli Jokinen repeatedly in the comments. Go Flames.