It's a rivalry night in Pittsburgh and the Blue Jackets are on the road after 4-1 loss the Leafs at Nationwide Arena.
0–1–0 (0 points)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
7 P.M. – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5
PPG PAINTS ARENA
FOX SPORTS OHIO
FOX SPORTS GO
The Blue Jackets begin the season with back-to-back games for the fourth season in a row, and a year ago, they were 7-6-3 in the second of back-to-backs. Last season, they took on Carolina in their second game and the outcome was undesirable, a dreadful loss in the home opener. With a loss last night to the Leafs, the Blue Jackets will work towards not having the same outcome from last season.
Columbus was 1-3-0 against the Penguins last season, so they want to make sure history does not repeat this season.
Blue Jackets "fan favorite" Jack Johnson is in the lineup for the Penguins, and at the other end, rookie Elvis Merzlikins will make his first NHL start for Columbus. While he may lack NHL regular season experience, Merzlikins appears ready for this challenge. Due to the team's inexperience in net, their style of play will be focused on supporting the goaltenders and limiting rushes and chances against.
Here's a look at tonight's projected lines for the Blue Jackets:
Extras: Kukan, Gavrikov, Milano
- Start fast. Starting strong in a back-to-back is tough, but the Blue Jackets cannot afford to fall into a hole early against the Penguins, who will do everything they can early in the game to put the Jackets on their heels. The Penguins lost their season opener to the Sabres and will be looking for revenge tonight.
- Protect the shooting lanes. Keep the shooters out of the slot area, and force them to take wide-angle or low percentage shots. In his first NHL start, Merzlikins will have some nerves and he'll probably feel the pressure early, so strong defensive play by the Jackets and a couple of saves will be key.
- Stay out of the box. The Penguins had the fifth-best power play last season, so putting them on the power play multiple times during the game is playing with fire. Additionally, the Blue Jackets need to manufacture power play opportunities for themselves – and they can't do that when they're a man down.