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Game 6 Preview - Backs Against The Wall

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The Blue Jackets have one more chance to extend the series tonight. Win, or go home.

Kirk Irwin

Game 6 - Penguins Lead Series 3-2

Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets

April 28, 2014 - 7:00 pm EDT
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio / NBCSN
Opponent's Blog: Pensburgh

OK, so here we are: for the first time in more than five years, the Jackets face a win-or-go-home game in the playoffs. In that 2009 series, a largely overmatched Jackets squad rose up and gave their best effort of the series. The 2014 Jackets will need to do the same, after Saturday night the Penguins flexed their muscles and smothered Columbus.

It's going to take 60 minutes tonight. All out, all the time. As the Stars and Ducks proved last night, 58 minutes isn't good enough, no matter how well you play in those 58 minutes. Columbus needs their most complete effort.

They won't have their "complete" roster to do it, however. R.J. Umberger is out with his bevy of injuries, and for some unknown reason Jared Boll is the choice to replace him. I do not like this move. Boll isn't quick, and while physical his lack of quickness is a huge detriment in this series against the Penguins. I just don't get it.

On defense, Nikita Nikitin is out, and Nick Schultz is in, playing with James Wisniewski. I like this move, and the shuffling of pairs. Coach Todd Richards is putting his best four defensemen from this series into the top-four. It's a smart move.

It looks like Brooks Orpik remains out for Pittsburgh.

The Jackets will hopefully get a charge out of their home crowd again, which has been awesome in this series. There's obviously a chance that this game will see a higher influx of Penguins fans, since the tickets went on sale when Pittsburgh fans would have known about the game and been able to purchase them. So, what has been a 90/10 split so far in this series... well, we'll see. I hope it remains 90/10 tonight, as that crowd was a living being that helped will this team to victory in Game 4.

I won't waste a ton of time breaking down the specifics of this game (stay disciplined, don't let Pittsburgh get 50+ shots again, Bob was good and needs to be again, etc.). It's win or go home. It's staying alive against a seasoned playoff opponent who has eliminated a lot of teams over the years in these kinds of games. It's doing what the Stars and Blues could not do and forcing Game 7.

It's a tough mountain to climb.

But, the Jackets have shown they can bounce back from adversity. They'll need to show it again tonight.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(regular season: 43-32-7, 93 Points; 4th division, 7th conference)

Boone Jenner Ryan Johansen Jack Skille
Matt Calvert Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno Artem Anisimov Blake Comeau
Derek MacKenzie Mark Letestu Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray David Savard
Nick Schultz James Wisniewski
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

Pittsburgh Penguins
(regular season: 51-24-7, 109 Points; 1st Division, 2nd Conference)

Chris Kunitz Sidney Crosby Lee Stempniak
Jussi Jokinen Evgeni Malkin James Neal
Beau Bennett Brandon Sutter Joe Vitale
Tanner Glass Marcel Goc Craig Adams
Kris Letang Paul Martin
Rob Scuderi Robert Bortuzzo
Olli Maatta Matt Niskanen
Marc-Andre Fleury
Jeff Zatkoff

Series Results

04/16/14 - Columbus 3 at Pittsburgh 4
04/19/14 - Columbus 4 at Pittsburgh 3 (2OT)
04/21/14 - Pittsburgh 4 at Columbus 3
04/23/14 - Pittsburgh 3 at Columbus 4 (OT)
04/26/14 - Columbus 1 at Pittsburgh 3
04/28/14 - Pittsburgh at Columbus
04/30/14 - Columbus at Pittsburgh*
*if necessary

Head to Head Stats

Pittsburgh Columbus
3.40 GPG 3.00
3.00 GAPG 3.40
38.2 SPG 33.8
.911 SV% .916
20.0% (5-for-25) PP% 27.3% (6-for-22)
72.7% (16-for-22) PK% 80.0% (20-for-25)
Jussi Jokinen, 3 G leader Boone Jenner / Jack Johnson, 3
Paul Martin, 8 A leader Brandon Dubinsky, 5
Paul Martin, 8 Pts leader Brandon Dubinsky / Ryan Johansen, 6
Kris Letang, 10 PIM leader Blake Comeau, 10