Game 5(x) Preview: Blue Jackets @ Penguins

Justin K. Aller

The Final Four starts now, as the Blue Jackets enter the second week of exhibition games with today's matinee against the Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins

September 21st, 2013 - 4:00pm EDT

CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh PA
Radio - None TV - NHL Network US via ROOT Sports
Opponent's Blog: Pensburgh

With much of the fat trimmed from the roster after last Thursday's game in Carolina, the Jackets are taking on a lean, hungry shape as they prepare for the start of the regular season.

Today's matinee game will be an interesting challenge. No-pregame skate, no morning warmups. Eat breakfast, have a team meeting, fly to the 'Burgh, get lost on roads laid out by a blind surveyor and his hallucinating assistants, get to the CEC, have another team meeting, then suit up and go to work.

Oh, and it's guaranteed to be a packed house. Something tells me they won't be on our side.

The other interesting story floating around this game is the news the Curtis McEllhinney is unexpectedly on the shelf, so there's suddenly a bit of unexpected competition for the #2 slot to start the season.

Pittsburgh has already announced that Marc-Andre Fleury will start and expects to play the full game. Bob is going to start across from him, but if the Jackets get up (or down) by a fair margin after 40 minutes, do you give Smith a chance to shine in game action? I'm really curious to see how much more action Smith and McKenna will get before all is said and done.

This is also a big game for the remaining "bubble guys" on the squad. People like Boone Jenner, Jack Skille, David Savard, and Ilari Melart are being given a big opportunity to show what they can do against a squad that may be lacking Crosby, but has Malkin, Letang, Neal, Dupuis, Orpik, and Jussi Jokinen in their own barn.

Holding your own will get noticed. Making an impact in a game like this could be the difference between Springfield and Columbus.

Carpe Diem.

Projected Lineups

(All lines are best guesses based on media reports of the game rosters)

Columbus Blue Jackets (3-1-0 in pre-season)

Cam Atkinson - Brandon Dubinsky - Marian Gaborik
Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - R. J. Umberger
Nick Foligno - Mark Letestu - Jack Skille
Ryan Craig - Derek MacKenzie - Jared Boll / Michael Chaput

Fedor Tyutin / Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray / Ilari Melart
Tim Erixon / David Savard
Will Weber

Sergei Bobrovsky
Jeremy Smith

Pittsburgh Penguins (1-1-1)

James Neal - Evgeni Malkin - Jussi Jokinen
Pascal Dupuis - Chuck Kobasew - Dustin Jeffrey
Craig Adams - Brandon Sutter - Tanner Glass
Harry Zolnierczyk - Zach Sill - Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik / Kris Letang
Paul Martin / Rob Scuderi
Olli Maatta / Paul Martin
Robert Bortuzzo

Marc-Andre Fleury
Jeff Zatkoff

Game Notes:

  • As mentioned above this game will be the Penguins' annual "Kids game", where all tickets were given away to local youth hockey organizations. This is fantastic, and I'd love it if the Jackets took a page from their playbook and organized something similar here.
  • Given that Boll and Zolnierczyk are both dressed, I'd call the forecast for this match "Goony with a chance of Fisticuffs."
  • Both teams are coming off an idle day following Thursday matches, with the Jackets defeating Carolina and Pittsburgh topping Chicago. The Penguins had a rest day on Friday, the Jackets held a practice.
  • The game will be broadcast on NHL Network in the US, which is picking up the ROOT Sports feed.
  • At 3-1-0, the Jackets are currently the top team in the Metro. This means absolutely nothing, but it's still nice. More interesting is the fact that their 14 GF is currently the best in the Eastern Conference, but the 12 GA wold have them in some hot water.
  • Mike Lange will probably say something ridiculous when a guy does a thing.

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