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PRE GAME: vs. St. Louis

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets


Mark Letestu

The Blue Jackets got more positive news on the injury front this morning when Mark Letestu was activated off injured reserve. He’s been deemed good to go for tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues, and interim head coach Todd Richards said Letestu will play on the second line alongside Vinny Prospal and Jeff Carter.

Steve Mason is the starting goaltender for the Blue Jackets tonight while Curtis Sanford continues to rest an upper-body injury. Richards said this morning that Sanford is getting the necessary rest to recuperate, but he doesn’t anticipate him on the ice anytime soon. For the Blues, it’s expected that Jaroslav Halak will get the start tonight at Nationwide Arena. Halak is coming off a 3-0 shutout of the San Jose Sharks on Sunday afternoon.

Here is the expected Blues lineup for tonight’s game:

Perron Backes Oshie
McDonald Berglund Langebrunner
Porter Sobotka Stewart
Crombeen Nichol Reaves
Colaiacovo Pietrangelo
Jackman Shattenkirk
K. Russell Polak
  1. Manage the puck: Richards talked about it this morning, and no surprise this is one of the keys to success for Columbus tonight. The Blues are a disciplined team that likes to control the puck, and they generate their offense off turnovers. The Blue Jackets must be smart with their puck decisions in order to keep the Blues out of their end of the ice.
  2. Pepper Halak: There isn’t a goaltender in the NHL riding a streak like Halak is right now – in his last 10 starts, the Blues netminder has recorded five shutouts and re-taken the net from Brian Elliot for the time being. The Blue Jackets need bodies at the net and a desire to compete for rebounds against a Blues defense that doesn’t yield a whole lot.
  3. Skate, skate, skate: Since Ken Hitchcock took over behind the Blues bench, there has been a commitment to playing at a higher tempo all over the ice. They don’t “trap” teams per se, but St. Louis likes to play fast in its defensive zone and catch teams off-guard in transition. The Blue Jackets have to be ready to match the Blues stride-for-stride and not get caught on their heels.

Richards on facing the Blues:
“It may sound like a broken record as far as our preparation for games, but it's going to be about us managing the puck. (The Blues) are very committed defensively, they make you earn everything. If we're careless with the puck, it could a long night for us."

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.

@CBJ_DJhas your Valentine’s Day playlist tonight – follow him on twitter during the game to curate your very own Valentine’s mix.

• He’s #21 in your program - #1 in your heart. Hit up the Bud Light Terrace before the second intermission tonight for your chance to win THIS message from James Wisniewski. It’s part of the teddy bear raffle, presented by Meyers Jewelers, for the Blue Jackets Foundation.

• KISS CAM! Bring your chapstick and get ready to pucker up. You can bet there will be at least one KISS CAM tonight in honor of St. Valentine.

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