GAME DAY: Phoenix

Columbus continues season-long road trip against Coyotes in Glendale tonight

Saturday, 02.16.2013 / 12:00 AM / News
By Rob Mixer  - BlueJackets.com

BLUE JACKETS (4-8-2) AT COYOTES (6-6-2)

JOBING.COM ARENA | GLENDALE, ARIZ.

TONIGHT, 8 P.M.

TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO (HD) | RADIO: 97.1 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM





Whenever you play the Phoenix Coyotes, one thing is abundantly clear: if you're going to beat them, you have to out-work them. There's no other method for success.

Under the regime of coach Dave Tippett, the Coyotes seemingly feed off all the challenges -- both on and off the ice -- that have been fed in their direction. Ownership troubles? No problem, they'll just make the playoffs amidst a cloud of uncertainty and narrowly miss out on a chance at the Stanley Cup Final. Losing players to free agency? No sweat, they'll find players to step up and play their way in order to get results.

It also helps that Mike Smith, a bargain pick-up on the free agent market two summers ago, has been one of the NHL's top goaltenders since joining the Coyotes and was the backbone of their playoff run last year. Despite missing players to injury this season, and particularly so on defense, the Coyotes are still chugging along and have managed to stay in the playoff hunt. But is that really much of a surprise?

Entering tonight's game at Jobing.com Arena (the second meeting in Glendale between the Blue Jackets and Coyotes this season), the home side has had an up-and-down month of February. After an overtime loss to Dallas to start the month, the Coyotes won back-to-back games against Dallas and Minnesota but were handled on home ice by the Chicago Blackhawks two nights later.

But two more wins came in the wake of a disappointing loss to Chicago, most recently a 3-2 overtime win in Colorado that came with some good fortune on the game-winning goal. Phoenix fell victim to Pekka Rinne's third shutout of the season two nights ago in Nashville, but did not play a bad game overall. Few teams get more from less than the Coyotes, and it's something they thrive on.

Defense is strong for the Coyotes with Oliver Ekman-Larsson leading the way on the back end, and at age 21, he's one of the brightest young stars in the game. He's joined on the blue line by All-Star Keith Yandle, veterans Zbynek Michalek and Derek Morris along with former Blue Jacket Rostislav Klesla. It's an experienced and gritty group in front of Smith that has helped the Coyotes become of the the NHL's toughest defensive teams.




- Fedor Tyutin leads the Blue Jackets in scoring and also scored the team's only goal in a 5-1 loss to the Coyotes last month at Jobing.com Arena.

- After several chances in recent weeks, Nick Foligno scored his first goal since opening night in Friday's game against the Los Angeles Kings. He has been a key cog in a very consistent line with Brandon Dubinsky and Matt Calvert.

- It's possible that Nick Drazenovic draws into the lineup tonight, especially in a back-to-back situation. The 26-year-old center was recalled from Springfield as injury insurance on the road trip, and a lot could also depend on the status of Artem Anisimov. John Moore is healthy to play but was a scratch last night vs. Los Angeles, and he's also a player available for selection this evening.

- CBJ Radio play-play-play announcer George Matthews will call his 1,000th game TONIGHT, and be honored Feb. 26. READ MORE




Radim Vrbata
RADIM VRBATA

RIGHT WING | #17

2013 STATS: 3-8-11, 14 GP

The Coyotes' offense is a different level of dangerous when the streaky Vrbata is lighting the lamp, and when he's on his game, there are few players better at shooting the puck. Vrbata, 31, has enjoyed the better years of his career in Phoenix and scored 35 goals in 77 games last season.




COLUMBUS: Cam Atkinson (lower body, IR); Artem Anisimov(lower body, questionable)

PHOENIX: N/A

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Johnson 1 1 1 0 2
D. MacKenzie 1 1 0 0 1
M. Letestu 1 1 0 1 1
B. Dubinsky 1 0 1 1 1
B. Jenner 1 0 1 -1 1
F. Tyutin 1 0 0 -1 0
J. Wisniewski 1 0 0 0 0
B. Comeau 1 0 0 -1 0
N. Nikitin 1 0 0 0 0
J. Skille 1 0 0 -1 0
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Bobrovsky 0 1 0 .875 4.07
 
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