Jagr's availability a mystery as Flames host Jets
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CALGARY, Alberta -- The Calgary Flames will look to bounce back from a lackluster effort in their season-opening game when they host the Winnipeg Jets at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.
Whether or not they have newly-signed right winger Jaromir Jagr in the lineup remains a burning question.
The Flames officially announced the signing of the NHL's second highest scorer of all time on Wednesday. Later that night without the 45-year-old Jagr in the lineup, the Flames dropped a 3-0 road decision to the Edmonton Oilers, who were led by a hat trick from Connor McDavid and a 26-save performance from Cam Talbot.
Back in Calgary the next day, Jagr practiced on a line with center Sam Bennett and left winger Kris Versteeg. Afterward, he wouldn't commit to whether he'd be ready to play his first game with the Flames on Saturday against the Jets.
"Like I said yesterday, it's not going to be easy for me," said Jagr, who is third in NHL history with 765 goals behind Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801). "It's a challenge. It's different for me and my linemates. When you get traded, (usually) you get some games before. You're in game shape. I cannot say that about myself right now. This might take time.
"We go day-by-day. We have to be smart about it. If I'm not going to be ready, it's not very smart to put me out there."
Jagr didn't speak to the media after practice on Friday and coach Glen Gulutzan also didn't have an answer whether Calgary's newest acquisition would suit up against Winnipeg.
"We're going to let Jags decide that so we'll see (on Saturday)," said Gulutzan, who noticed Thursday's practice was like the second day of training camp for Jagr. "We'll know more (Saturday) ... see how he feels. That'll be his decision."
Whether Jagr plays or not, the Flames have set their sights on putting Wednesday's loss behind them. The Jets would like to do the same as they suffered a 7-2 setback to the Toronto Maple Leafs in their home opener at Bell MTS Place.
"They're a very good team," Gulutzan said. "If you watched the game, which we did, they played very well. They just didn't score on the power play early. They got a few bad breaks. Toronto certainly capitalized on their chances.
"There's a lot of volatility in the league right now, especially in the first 15 games. We think Winnipeg's a really good team, so we fully expect a tough game."
Although Jets coach Paul Maurice was disappointed in his team's performance on opening night, he's confident his charges can bounce back with a better effort against the Flames.
"We got beat, 7-2, so you're not bragging about it," Maurice said. "But I've got a fair amount of confidence in us being a better team than the score said we were.
"I'm not trying to say we were right there. We gave up too many to be right there in any game, but there was enough good in the game that we know that should be the foundation."
The Jets are expected to make some changes to their lineup, which include moving Mathieu Perreault to play left wing on a line with center Bryan Little and Patrik Laine. Meanwhile, left winger Nikolaj Ehlers is expected to take Perreault's place on a line with center Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.
"I think we're going move on from that game (against Toronto)," Perreault said. "Whether you lose 7-2 or 1-0, the first game for us, we see it as a loss. We lost two points and we're focusing on the next two points."
Perreault went on to bill Saturday's affair as: "Two teams that are looking to bounce back, so it should be an exciting game."
Updated October 6, 2017