It's a huge one for all kinds of reasons tonight in Columbus, Ohio.
The Pittsburgh Penguins (36-22-9) are coming to town, fresh off of handing the Columbus Blue Jackets (37-27-3) a 3-0 drubbing Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
The importance of this game for both clubs cannot be overstated. Both are pushing to cement their place in the playoffs, and whenever two points are up for grabs between these two teams, it's always a dogfight. Now, that dogfight has been quite one-sided recently. The Penguins have defeated the Blue Jackets eight times in a row in the regular season, with the Blue Jackets' last regular-season victory over Pittsburgh coming on February 17, 2017.
The Blue Jackets will have to take the effort that's been there recently and channel it into execution if they want a shot at knocking off the Penguins tonight. Mental lapses will need to be minimal.
Let's take a look at the expected lineup tonight.
Panarin - Dubois - Atkinson
Dzingel - Duchene - Bjorkstrand
Foligno - Jenner - Anderson
Dubinsky - Nash - Wennberg
Werenski - Jones
Nutivaara - Savard
Harrington - McQuaid
- Will the Blue Jackets be able to reverse the tide and claim a victory against the Penguins, a consistent thorn in their side? It has been utter domination at the hands of Pittsburgh recently, and if the Blue Jackets want to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, these are the games they'll have to win. There's no way around it. Since the trade deadline, expectations have been high and results have been poor. Tonight is a perfect opportunity to turn it around.
- Defense wins championships, and offense wins games. Right now, the Blue Jackets have a little bit of defense, and virtually no offense. It's imperative that the Blue Jackets get out of their own zone, clear the puck, string some passes together and have some extended shifts in their offensive zone. It sounds simple, but the effort is there for the Blue Jackets — it's the execution that's lacking.
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