Game Preview #12 - A Division Rivalry Is Born

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

This weekend's home-and-home between the Blue Jackets and Penguins marks the start of a new division rivalry.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins

November 1, 2013 - 7:00 pm EDT
Consol Enegery Center - Pittsburgh, PA
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: PensBurgh
SBN's Penguins vs Blue Jackets coverage

Sorry for the lateness of the preview. Suffice it to say--both for the Jackets and for me--It's been a long week.

For some reason during a "compressed Olympic schedule," the Jackets haven't played since Sunday (thanks, NHL!), and get to get their legs back against one of the best teams in the Conference in Pittsburgh. The Pens are coming off a strong win against Boston on Wednesday night, after enduring a three-game skid last week. They've battled some injury issues, most notably with James Neal, but have gotten solid goal-tending from Marc-Andre Fleury and are playing some better defense in front of him.

The Jackets have a couple of injuries, notably Boone Jenner (out tonight) and Derek MacKenzie, who is a game-time decision. The Jackets hopefully have some pent-up hostility after Sunday's loss to Anaheim. They'll need to be on top of their game tonight to beat the high-octane Penguins.

On a macro level, this kicks off the "official" division rivalry between these two, although it's hard to call something one-sided a rivalry. That said, these teams didn't play last year, which adds a little sauce to this weekend's series. They played twice in the pre-season, and there was no love lost. Expect some fast, physical play tonight. If the Jackets want to be taken seriously within the division, this weekend gives them a golden chance to announce their presence with authority.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(5-6-0, 10 Points; 4th division, 9th conference)

Nick Foligno Artem Anisimov Marian Gaborik
Mark Letestu Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
Blake Comeau Ryan Johansen R.J. Umberger
Michael Chaput Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Dalton Prout
Jack Johnson David Savard
Ryan Murray James Wisniewski
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

Pittsburgh Penguins
(9-4-0, 18 Points; 1st division, 2nd conference)

Chris Kunitz Sidney Crosby Pascal Dupuis
Jussi Jokinen Evgeni Malkin Matt D`Agostini
Tanner Glass Brandon Sutter Chuck Kobasew
Dustin Jeffrey Joe Vitale Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik Paul Martin
Matt Niskanen Kris Letang
Olli Maatta Robert Bortuzzo
Marc-Andre Fleury
Jeff Zatkoff

Season Series

11/01/13 - Columbus at Pittsburgh
11/02/13 - Pittsburgh at Columbus
12/09/13 - Columbus at Pittsburgh
12/29/13 - Pittsburgh at Columbus
03/28/14 - Pittsburgh at Columbus

Head to Head Stats

Pittsburgh Columbus
3.08 (8) GPG 2.73 (16)
2.38 (7) GAPG 2.64 (12)
20.0% (15) PP% 20.0% (17)
77.8% (25) PK% 78.4% (23)
Sidney Crosby, 8 G leader Marian Gaborik, 5
Sidney Crosby, 13 A leader James Wisniewski, 8
Sidney Crosby, 21 Pts leader Marian Gaborik, 10
three tied, 12 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 30
6-2-0 Home/Road 2-3-0
10/30 vs. Boston, W 3-2 Last Game 10/27 vs. Anaheim, L 4-3
6-4-0 Last 10 5-5-0
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