Game Preview #30 - Walking Wounded in Pittsburgh

Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

The Jackets and Penguins renew acquaintances tonight minus several key players.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins

December 9, 2013 - 7:30 pm EST
Consol Enegery Center - Pittsburgh, PA
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - NBC Sports Network
Opponent's Blog: PensBurgh
SBN's Penguins vs Blue Jackets coverage

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.

Projected Lineups

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
Curtis McElhinney
Mike McKenna

Pittsburgh Penguins
(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
Marc-Andre Fleury
Jeff Zatkoff

Season Series

11/01/13 - Columbus 2 at Pittsburgh 4
11/02/13 - Pittsburgh 3 at Columbus 0
12/09/13 - Columbus at Pittsburgh
12/29/13 - Pittsburgh at Columbus
03/28/14 - Pittsburgh at Columbus

Head to Head Stats

Pittsburgh Columbus
3.03 (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
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