Let's just say the next two games for the Columbus Blue Jackets are pretty important.
The Blue Jackets start off a home-and-home with the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena at tonight at 7:00 PM as the playoff race gets tighter and tighter. The second game will be played on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena to complete the season series.
Should the Blue Jackets lose both contests in regulation, their playoff hopes could be nearing life alert. There would be 14 games remaining on the season, and that'd be an eight-point swing towards the Penguins.
From there on out, Columbus would be chasing the likes of the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes (who are both scalding hot right now). Their best chance at that point would be to beat out the Montreal Canadiens.
Okay, we're getting ahead of ourselves - let's focus on the present. Here's tonight's preview:
Atkinson - Duchene - Panarin
Foligno - Wennberg - Anderson
Dzingel - Dubois - Bjorkstrand
Dubinsky - Jenner - Sedlak
Werenski - Jones
Nutivaara - Savard
Harrington - Kukan
Bobrovsky / Kinkiad
- The lines above are subject to change, per usual by head coach John Tortorella. For the offense, the only lock might be that Artemi Panarin stays on the first line. Defensively, we shouldn't be surprised to see if Dean Kukan or Scott Harrington scratched for Adam McQuaid.
- Will Sergei Bobrovsky, Keith Kinkaid or Joonas Korpisalo get the start between the pipes? Bobrovsky is certainly the goaltender the club will lean on in the postseason, but he has also been the goaltender that has been haunted by the Penguins, even back to his Philadelphia Flyers days. He has a 3.14 goals against average against the Penguins for his entire career, including playoffs. He's allowed less than two goals only five times out of 36 tries, and has never recorded a shutout. Maybe give the newbie Kinkaid a shot?
- NBC Sports has the call tonight, which you know already puts the Blue Jackets at a disadvantage. No, not really, but doesn't it seem like they always play worse on national television?
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