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Game Preview: Bloody but Unbowed

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A rivalry rematch

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Just six days ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets fell in a shootout to the Pittsburgh Penguins and now they’ll do it all over again. That first matchup removed any doubt that these teams do NOT care for each other, and consider this a rivalry. It was a physical, hard-fought battle even if it got chippy too often. Look for more of the same tonight. Can the Blue Jackets survive another battle like that? The last few weeks have proven costly.

We get a break in that Kris Letang will not play tonight due to a lower body injury. Letang has always played well against Columbus.

The big news for Columbus is that we received coal in our stocking on Boxing Day with the revelation that both Cam Atkinson (foot) and Alexander Wennberg (back) will miss 4-6 weeks. This is concerning for a team that is already missing Brandon Dubinsky for an extended period (Defensemen Zach Werenski and Ryan Murray are also still out at this point, but should be back sooner. Werenski skated this morning at practice). The good news:

Thanks, Maetz. Now what will the lineup look like in their absence? A large batch of reinforcements arrived from Cleveland yesterday, with Jordan Schroeder, Sonny Milano, Tyler Motte, and Dean Kukan getting the call. The first three have grown very familiar with I-71 this season (watch out for the speed traps in Richland County!) while Dean Kukan has not played for the Jackets since late in the 2016 season. These were how the lines shook out at morning practice today:

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin Pierre-Luc Dubois Josh Anderson
Boone Jenner Nick Foligno Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Sonny Milano Lukas Sedlak Matt Calvert
Tyler Motte Jordan Schroeder Markus Hannikainen
Markus Nutivaara Seth Jones
Jack Johnson David Savard
Scott Harrington Gabriel Carlsson
Sergei Bobrovsky
Joonas Korpisalo
Pittsburgh Penguins
Jake Guentzel Sidney Crosby Bryan Rust
Carl Hagelin Evgeni Malkin Patric Hornqvist
Conor Sheary Riley Sheahan Phil Kessel
Tom Kuhnhackl Carter Rowney Ryan Reaves
Brian Dumoulin NOT Kris Letang
Jamie Oleksiak Matt Hunwick
Olli Maatta Chad Ruhwedel
Matt Murray
Tristan Jarry