Pittsburgh Penguins (28-11-1) @ Columbus Blue Jackets (17-17-4)
Root Sports, FS-O – 6:00 pm/et
Nationwide Arena – Columbus, OH
The Pittsburgh Penguins meet the Columbus Blue Jackets as the Pens hit the halfway point of the season. This is also the Penguins' second-last game of 2013.
Malkin practiced without contact today and Scuderi is "close" to returning. Dan Bylsma said "it's possible" that Scuderi plays today. Zatkoff is in net and the rest of the line-up has not been announced.
STATS, INFO & NOTES:
Penguins: Sidney Crosby (21G, 34A: 55P)
Blue Jackets: Ryan Johansen (15G, 15A: 30P)
Probable Starting Goaltenders:
Penguins: Jeff Zatkoff (6-2-0, 2.46 GAA, .912 Sv%)
Blue Jackets: Curtis McElhinney (6-5-1, 2.43 GAA, .921 Sv%)
Penguins: Defeated Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 [OT].
Blue Jackets: Defeated New Jersey Devils 2-1 [SO].
The Penguins are still atop the Metro by 13 points, and sit almost 20 points ahead of Columbus. Their +34 goal differential is the best in the Eastern Conference, and they still have this guy named Sid who I'm told is pretty decent at hockey.
Now, that said, this is not the same lineup Columbus faced earlier in the season.
Pascal Dupuis is done for the year. Evgeni Malkin is on the shelf again. Their defense is still more Wilkes-Barre than Pittsburgh, and Marc-Andre Fleury remains a roulette wheel when it comes to good goalie vs. bad goalie on any given night.
BREAKING: Jeff Zatkoff is getting the start tonight per Rob Mixer.
What Happened Last Time: December 9, 2013 – Pens won 2-1. [Our Recap]
Even more crazy is how deep the Pens’ blue-line depth is and that they’re still winning games. It’s great to pat Shero and Co. on the back for having the blue line set up like this, but it comes at a cost. That cost involves banking of Malkin and Crosby to carry the team while Chris Conner is on the team’s third line.
With the stench of the ugly Boston game still lingering in the air, the Penguins didn't look great, but they got the job done. Columbus sucks, but it is worth noting they are going to get Nathan Horton and Marian Gaborik back into their lineup at one point. Maybe then they will actually score.
Penguins Player(s) to Watch: Sidney Crosby, because that's the easy answer.
Blue Jackets Player(s) to Watch: R.J. Umberger. Do you know where he's from? You will soon!
Gif that Seems Appropriate for Today's Game:
Pittsburgh Penguins lines from Daily Faceoff:
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Joe Vitale
Chris Conner – Jussi Jokinen – James Neal
Harry Zolnierczyk – Brandon Sutter – Chuck Kobasew
Tanner Glass – Zach Sill – Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik – Deryk Engelland
Matt Niskanen – Olli Maatta
Robert Bortuzzo – Simon Despres
Columbus Blue Jackets lines from Daily Faceoff:
Nick Foligno – Ryan Johansen – R.J. Umberger
Artem Anisimov – Brandon Dubinsky – Cam Atkinson
Blake Comeau – Derek MacKenzie – Jack Skille
Boone Jenner – Mark Letestu – Corey Tropp
Jack Johnson – Fedor Tyutin
James Wizniewski - Ryan Murray
Nikita Niktin – David Savard