"No traction", said Columbus Blue Jackets captain C Olli Jokinen after the team's 2-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday night. "Either the ice was slipperier than usual, or our skates were too dull to cut through it. We were falling all over the place and it's surprising that we only lost by 1 goal."

(Read More...) Winners of only 1 of their last 4 outings, the Jackets were hoping to turn things around against an injured Coyotes team that was missing two of their top snipers in LW Martin Havlat and RW Nikolai Zherdev, but it was not meant to be.


ABOVE: The Columbus Blue Jackets were fighting the icy conditions at Nationwide Arena all game long.

The home team took the early lead when defensive forward LW Jay Pandolfo tipped in a RW Jerred Smithson shot near the end of the 1st period. The goal, which was originally called off by the referees who thought that Pandolfo's stick was above the crossbar when he tipped the puck, was confirmed after video replay clearly showed Pandolfo's stick was on the ice. "I couldn't believe the refs had to go upstairs on that one, my stick was on the ice the whole time", said the 34-year old Pandolfo. The Coyotes responded with a late 2nd period goal by tough guy RW Ben Eager, followed by the game-winning goal by D Wade Redden early in the 3rd frame. Redden, who is often described as the worst player to ever lace up a pair of skates, has had a tremendously lucky season thus far, producing 4 goals and 3 assists in 13 games played.

The match-up marked the second time these two teams have met this season, with the Jackets winning the first meeting by the same margin back on October 7. Playing the Coyotes is always extra-special for Olli Jokinen since the big Fin currently plays for Phoenix in the NHL. "It's always special playing against your NHL team. I got a bit confused with the jerseys at the start of the game, I kept making passes to the wrong team, but eventually I remembered who I was playing for tonight."

In other news, Columbus General Manager Eric hosted a press conference after the game where he announced the signing of C Mark Mancari. Mancari, who plays for the Portland Pirates of the AHL, is the league's leader in points with 22 in 11 games, including 9 goals. "Mark is playing phenomenal hockey down in Portland and we're hoping that he'll be rewarded with some NHL action later this season. I understand that Buffalo is hesitant to bring him up to the big club because he would have to clear waivers, but with the way he's playing the Jackets organization felt it was worth the gamble for this season. We signed him to a 1-year, $400,000 deal, meaning that next summer we can re-evaluate the situation and sign him as a restricted free agent, or even force him into a hold-out situation just to keep his rights."

The Jackets will be flying to Buffalo tomorrow in preparation for their match against the Sabres on Tuesday night. Rumours out of Buffalo are that newly acquired RW Martin St. Louis will make his first appearance with his new team after being acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning this weekend. No doubt that Columbus will have their hands full against the top line of Prospal - Staal - St. Louis, but look for G Vesa Toskala to be on his A-game. Puck drop is at 5pm EST, or whenever JD feels like simulating.