COLUMBUS — They have enough Manitoba and former Moose content to know what they’re getting into tonight at the MTS Centre.

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This article was published 20/9/2011 (3683 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Head coach Scott Arniel holds practice for the Blue Jackets in Columbus Tuesday morning.

BORIS MINKEVICH/ WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Head coach Scott Arniel holds practice for the Blue Jackets in Columbus Tuesday morning.

COLUMBUS — They have enough Manitoba and former Moose content to know what they’re getting into tonight at the MTS Centre.

Before the Columbus Blue Jackets’ split squad traveling to Winnipeg for tonight’s NHL pre-season game left today, they had a morning skate in their practice rink at Nationwide Arena and sounded like they were loving the game flavour they were headed for with an afternoon chartered jet ride to the Manitoba capital.

"The further along I get, well, I’ve played exhibition games in Montreal and they sure don’t seem like exhibition games," said tonight’s Columbus starting goalie in Winnipeg, Curtis Sanford, who played for the Moose in 2008-09. "We know it’s going to be a packed house so there’s going to be emotions running high for both teams."

Tonight marks’s Winnipeg’s first game against NHL opponents in 15 years.

The Blue Jackets gather around coach Scott Arniel Tuesday morning during practice in Columbus.

BORIS MINKEVICH/ WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Blue Jackets gather around coach Scott Arniel Tuesday morning during practice in Columbus.

"First game in Winnipeg in the last 15 years — I guess they’ve had some exhibitions with other teams — we know there’s going to be a lot of excitement in the air and we’re looking forward to it," Sanford said. "We’re the first team to go in there to play against the new Winnipeg Jets so we’re excited and thrilled for the opportunity."

Also in the Blue Jackets lineup tonight in Winnipeg will be left-winger Matt Calvert, 21, who hails from Brandon.

In his rookie NHL season in 2010-11, Calvert scored 11 goals and 20 points in 42 games.

"I can only imagine what it’s going to be like tonight," Calvert said this morning at Nationwide Arena before the team’s departure. "I’d expect a great reception for them. For me personally, I’ll have a lot of friends and family in the stands so that’ll be great to play in front of them.

"I was talking to my buddies yesterday. I told them I think it’s going to seem more like a playoff game. It’ll be a great atmopshere and playing in my home province, I’m real excited for it."

Calvert said he’s been paying keen attention to the Winnipeg-returns-to-the-NHL story.

"It’s a real exciting thing for the province," he said. "And being two hours away from Winnipeg in Brandon, I know they’re just as excited as the people in Wininpeg.

"So many people are pumped to see what the team can do, and just to have (NHL) hockey back in the province. It puts us back on the map because a lot of people in the U.S. don’t know where Manitoba is."

The Jackets in Winnipeg tonight will be under the guidance of their head coach, Scott Arniel, the former Jets and Moose player and Moose head coach who still keeps a home in Winnipeg. Former Moose assistant coach Brad Berry, now one of Arniel’s assistants in Columbus, will also be along for the ride.

In Columbus tonight, Jackets assistant Todd Richards will be running the team’s bench.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca