Game 60 Preview: War Dogs

What do you call a team that won 8 games in a row before being humbled 8-3?

Incredibly dangerous for the next team to face them.

Game Time: 7:00 pm EST
TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 WFAN-FM
Coyotes vs Blue Jackets coverage
Opponent's Blog: Five For Howling

If the answer above is a bit flip, it's because it's true. The Coyotes were on a roll, and got the door slammed in their face by the Lightning. That means they'll want to come back and prove the loss was a fluke - that it was more about Jason LaBarbara's bad effort in relief of Ilya Bryzgalov than anything else. It's also notable that the 8 game steak they'd been on was sparked by a similarly nasty loss - a 6-0 spanking at the hands of the Canucks.

To make matters worse, the Jackets haven't been able to find a formula for beating these guys. They had some early success last season, and in previous years they've been able to find the tone pretty easily, but since Dave Tippett's settled in as head coach, the desert dogs have turned into a pack of wolves, and they seem to like the taste of Nationwide Arena ice.

The Jackets will have their work cut out for them to withstand a motivated opponent, even if they are missing key forward Scottie Upshall, and have to keep their eyes on the prize: 2 big points, and a chance to keep themselves moving forward in their pursuit of the postseason.

On the other hand, but for a coin toss in the shootout, these two teams would be staring each other down with identical records over the last ten games. They're good...but they had better not take us lightly, either.

The road ahead is not easy, but there's reason to hope, and GM Scott Howson continues to work the phones, hoping to get a deal done before Monday's NHL trade deadline.

Otherwise, the Jackets will come right back with the same lineup card that played so well against Nashville on Tuesday, and look for them to continue their success.

Keys To The Game:

  • Leaders Of The Pack - When it comes to scoring, Keith Yandle and Shane Doan are head and shoulders above the rest of their club right now. Keeping them off the board has to be a priority for the D. I would expect to see Sammy Pahlsson's line out any time these guys are on the ice.
  • Man Advantages - On the one hand, Phoenix has a worse PK than Columbus right now, and that really takes some work. On the other, Lauri Korpikoski, when he isn't being a Finnish folk metal band, is one of the leauge's best at breaking out to burn teams for shorthanded goals. The Jackets have been much better about not giving up shorthanded opportunities, and that needs to continue.
  • Bryz - Barring something unexpected, Ilya Bryzgalov will be back in net tonight for Phoenix. He's got a 2.33 lifetime GAA against Columbus, and is 8-4-1 for his career with one shutout. Even scarier is that in 18 road starts this season, he's 12-4-2. The Jackets have to find a way to solve this Russian puzzle.

Tonight, honestly, probably isn't going to come down to stats, streaks, or systems. It's going to come down to one thing: Who wants it more?

With the way they've stepped up over the last month? I'm not betting against the Jackets.

At last check this morning, tickets are starting to get kinda scarce. If you haven't already, get down to the arena. This is your last chance to cheer the boys on before the trade deadline, and the Jackets will be on the road for almost a week and a half afterward. Come out, support the effort they've given us, and let's see if we can find our way to another win before Sunday's showdown in Nashville.

Blue Jackets Information:

Team Page Schedule
Roster Stats

Columbus Blue Jackets

Rick Nash Derek MacKenzie Jakub Voracek
R.J. Umberger Antoine Vermette Matt Calvert
Chris Clark Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Ethan Moreau Andrew Murray Jared Boll
Jan Hejda Anton Stralman
Fedor Tyutin Marc Methot
Grant Clitsome Kris Russell
Steve Mason
Mathieu Garon

Phoenix Coyotes

Lauri Korpikoski Eric Belanger Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt Martin Hanzal Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker Vernon Fiddler Lee Stempniak
Andrew Ebbett Kyle Turris

Paul Bissonnette

Keith Yandle Derek Morris

Michael Rozsival

Sami Lepisto
Oliver Ekman-Larsson Nolan Yonkman
Ilya Bryzgalov
Jason LaBarbara

Tidbit: Every time I read "Mikkel Boedker", my brain jumps to "Clarence Boddicker" which leads to RoboCop, which leads to "I'd Buy THAT for a dollar!" which leads to statues. It's a vicious yet awesome cycle.

Subscribe to The Cannon

Don’t miss out on the latest articles. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only articles.