Well, this is going to be interesting. The Penguins and Blue Jackets meet for the third time tonight, on national TV here in the States, and without several key players on both sides. Consider the following list of names that won't be playing tonight: Sergei Bobrovsky, Marian Gaborik, Nathan Horton, James Wisniewski, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, James Neil, and Rob Scuderi. And those are just the "bigger named" players out tonight. The Penguins should have Evgeni Malkin back tonight, or else he'd be on that list, too.
At any rate, the Jackets are riding a modest two-game winning streak in which they haven't been scored upon despite losing their Vezina-winning goaltender. The Penguins are coming off of one of the uglier games in recent memory, in which James Neal kneed a guy in the head who was down on the ice and then Boston's Shawn Thornton basically dragged down and sucker punched Orpik more than once in the face, knocking him unconscious on the ice and causing him to be taken out on a stretcher.
So, emotion. Yeah.
The Jackets have been successful these past two games because they've stuck to their system, skated hard, and played a great forechecking game while also collapsing on their own net to keep goalie Curtis McElhinney clean. They generated a season-high 41 shots on Friday night, and they should be well-rested despite the injuries. For the most part, the same lineup should be out there save Wisniewski, who didn't make the trip and should miss at least a week or so.
The Penguins are still dangerous, however, and the Jackets will need to play that same style of game again if they are to have a chance.
I remember a national TV game against Detroit a couple of years ago in which I expected Columbus to get destroyed, and I remember them coming out and flat-out smoking the Wings. It's going to have to be that kind of night again.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(12-14-3, 27 Points; 7th division, 12th conference)
|Nick Foligno||Ryan Johansen||R.J. Umberger|
|Matt Calvert||Brandon Dubinsky||Cam Atkinson|
|Boone Jenner||Artem Anisimov||Blake Comeau|
|Derek MacKenzie||Mark Letestu||Corey Tropp|
|Fedor Tyutin||Jack Johnson|
|Ryan Murray||David Savard|
|Nikita Nikitin||Dalton Prout|
(20-10-1, 41 Points; 1st division, 2nd conference)
|Chris Kunitz||Sidney Crosby||Pascal Dupuis|
|Jussi Jokinen||Evgeni Malkin||Jayson Megna|
|Chris Conner||Brandon Sutter||Joe Vitale>|
|Craig Adams||Zach Sill||Chuck Kobasew|
|Olli Maatta||Kris Letang|
|Deryk Engelland||Matt Niskanen|
|Simon Despres||Robert Bortuzzo|
Head to Head Stats
Pittsburgh Columbus 3.03 (6) GPG 2.45 (21) 2.26 (5) GAPG 2.72 (18) 26.6% (1) PP% 20.6% (8) 86.7% (2) PK% 80.4% (22) Chris Kunitz, 17 G leader Ryan Johansen, 10 Evgeni Malkin, 30 A leader James Wisniewski, 16 Sidney Crosby, 42 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 22 Tanner Glass, 38 PIM leader Brandon Dubinsky, 42 12-3-0 Home/Road 5-7-2 12/7 @ Boston, L 3-2 Last Game 12/6 vs. Minnesota, W 4-0 7-2-1 Last 10 6-4-0