Preview: Slay the Dragon
Columbus and Pittsburgh face off one more time, with playoff seeding at stake
Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets host the Pittsburgh Penguins in the final regular season game at Nationwide Arena.
After 80 games each, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions find themselves with the exact same record as the Blue Jackets. At second and third place in the Metro, respectively, the teams could be headed for a rematch of last year’s first round playoff matchup. If so, the result of tonight’s game could determine which team gets the all-important home ice advantage in that series.
The first two games of the season series were as close as could be, with each game going to the shootout in Pittsburgh. The third game, in Columbus, was all Pens. Fortunately, the Blue Jackets of March and April hardly resemble the Blue Jackets of December and February. One secret weapon? Former Pittsburgh defenseman Ian Cole, now playing a key role on the Blue Jackets blue line.
Former Blue Jacket Derick Brassard is unlikely to play, as he has missed three games with a groin injury. On the Columbus side, Josh Anderson is expected to play for the first time since suffering a knee sprain on February 26. It’s unclear where he’ll fit in the lineup, but his scoring ability and his physical presence will be a welcome addition.
For fans of scoreboard watching, the Devils host the Maple Leaves, the Flyers host the Hurricanes, and the Panthers host the Bruins. Any loss by the Panthers in their remaining 3 games clinches a playoff berth for the Jackets, as would any win or OT/SO loss by the Jackets. Losses by the Devils and Flyers keep them in the wild card positions regardless of the Jackets’ result.
|Artemi Panarin||Pierre-Luc Dubois||Cam Atkinson|
|Boone Jenner||Alexander Wennberg||Thomas Vanek|
|Sonny Milano||Mark Letestu||Oliver BJORKSTRAND|
|Matt Calvert||Brandon Dubinsky||Josh Anderson|
|Zach Werenski||Seth Jones|
|Ian Cole||David Savard|
|Ryan Murray||Jack Johnson|
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Carl Hagelin||Evgeni Malkin||Phil Kessel|
|Conor Sheary||Riley Sheahan||Patric Hornqvist|
|Zachary Aston-Reese||Josh Jooris||Tom Kuhnhackl|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Olli Maatta||Justin Schultz|
|Matt Hunwick||Jamie Oleksiak|