PRE GAME: vs. Dallas
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is in the building for the game tonight
Blue Jackets interim head coach Todd Richards is following a simple formula for tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. The lineup he uses in this game will mirror that of the last four games, meaning rookie center Ryan Johansen will be a scratch.
Curtis Sanford was the first goaltender off the ice during today’s morning skate, meaning he is the starter for the Blue Jackets. He will face Kari Lehtonen of the Stars, who has been strong vs. Columbus in his career, owning a 4-3-1 record and 1.75 goals-against average in eight starts against the Blue Jackets.
Here is the expected Blue Jackets lineup for tonight’s game:
- Put doubt in their minds: The Stars are bound to be a desperate team tonight as they fight for a playoff spot and look to avenge a bad loss earlier this week in Phoenix. If the Blue Jackets can jump out to a quick start with an early goal or two, the Stars will get thrown off-balance.
- Attack with speed: The Stars prefer to play a patient game between the blue lines, so the Blue Jackets have to combat that with speed through the neutral zone and establish their forecheck early in the game. As a result, they will spend more time with the puck and create more offense.
- Unnerve the goaltender: Lehtonen’s a pretty cool customer by trade, but he sometimes has difficulty tracking pucks through traffic and controlling rebounds. The Blue Jackets will likely send extra bodies to the net in order to disrupt Lehtonen’s rhythm and produce rebound chances.
Todd Richards on the importance of having pressure: "I've been on both sides, so I understand what pressure can do to you. I think there should be pressure every night, pressure that we put on ourselves. That's the expectations we put on ourselves, demand of ourselves and put on each other."
Richards on how the Blue Jackets’ game has improved of late: "Just our compete. The way we're competing and playing for each other. It starts with your goaltender and he's given us opportunities to win games."
AT THE ARENA VS. DALLAS
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.
•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.
• NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is at the rink tonight. Look for him to be introduced during the game – and a follow up interview with him on BlueJackets.com.
• Don’t forget to stop by The Blueline tonight before or during the game. Pick up your favorite CBJ merchandise – many of it on sale! Two locations are available, one at the Front Street entrance or one on the AEP Power Level.