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PRE-GAME: vs. Phoenix

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets interim head coach Todd Richards said Curtis Sanford is his starting goaltender tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes, marking two straight starts for Sanford. The club announced center Jeff Carter has been placed on injured reserve today, a day after LW Dane Byers was recalled from the Springfield Falcons.

Byers is expected to dress tonight for Columbus and will play on the left side of Derek MacKenzie and Jared Boll. The Coyotes did not skate today at Nationwide Arena, so their lineup is not known at this time. After playing last night in Detroit, Phoenix may opt to start backup goaltender Jason LaBarbera, who has terrific numbers in eight career games vs. the Blue Jackets: 4-3-0, 1.35 GAA and .955 save percentage.

Here is the projected lineup for tonight’s game at Nationwide Arena:

Prospal Brassard Nash
Johansen Vermette Kubalik
Russell Pahlsson Dorsett
Byers MacKenzie Boll
Tyutin Nikitin
Methot Johnson
Moore Savard
  1. Welcome home, get to work: It was a long, emotional road trip for the Blue Jackets but they need to be prepared right off the bat tonight. The Coyotes are a terrific road team and are led by a strong veteran group. Translation: they won’t be road-weary tonight. A quick start with energy is required for the Blue Jackets to shake off the travel legs.
  2. Score the first goal: This key is fairly simple and imperative after looking at this stat: since Dave Tippett took over in Phoenix, the Coyotes are 84-9-13 when they score first.
  3. On the same page: The Blue Jackets have had a full practice to learn Richards' philosophies and tweaks, and they will need all hands on deck tonight to beat the Coyotes. They want speed through the middle, pressure on their specialty teams and an aggressive five-man unit on every shift.



Tomas Kubalik, on his line with Ryan Johansen and Antoine Vermette: “It’s just simple hockey. I think we’ve got a pretty good line. I played with Vermette last year and he’s a very good player, and I like playing with him.”

Todd Richards on the Coyotes: “I’ve got a lot of respect for the coach. It’s a team that works. They do have stars over there, but they play as a group. I don’t think anyone puts themselves ahead of other guys on the team, and they play for each other.”

Here are some tips for fans attending the game at Nationwide Arena tonight:

• Doors will open tonight at 6:00 p.m. for the 7:00 p.m. puck drop.

• Looking for some extra cash to pay off your holiday bills? Tonight is another opportunity to support the CBJF 50/50 raffle. For only $1, you can purchase a raffle ticket for the chance to win the night’s pot. Tonight’s raffle benefits the Columbus Chill Youth Hockey Association.

• The Blue Jackets take the ice around 6:30 p.m. for pre-game warm-ups. Interested in their pre-game play list? Check out the scoreboard or follow @CBJ_DJ on twitter.

• Get a head start on your Valentine’s Day shopping. During a tv timeout of tonight’s game, the Blue Jackets Foundation Valentine’s Day Teddy Bear Raffle presented by Meyers Jewelers will be introduced - READ MORE.

• Win a trip to see Ryan Johansen at the 2012 NHL All-Star game. Stop by the R Bar in the Arena District after the game for your chance to enter a raffle to win an all-inclusive trip. Proceeds benefit the Blue Jackets Foundation.

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