Jackets ready for the challenge

Friday, 11.01.2013 / 7:00 AM / News
By Rob Mixer  - BlueJackets.com



PITTSBURGH – The Blue Jackets’ first game in five days is more than “just another game” and not just because many of their fathers are along for the trip.

When the puck drops on Friday night at the CONSOL Energy Center, they know it will take their best collective effort to start their Metropolitan Division rivalry with Pittsburgh on the right foot. And while it’s not officially a rivalry yet – a playoff series or two goes a long way in that regard, Mark Letestu (a former Penguin) said – there’s not a single Blue Jackets player who isn’t eagerly awaiting this weekend’s series.

Not only is this another of the so-called “measuring stick” games for the Blue Jackets, the home-and-home against the Penguins presents an opportunity to make some headway in the division standings. Entering the weekend, the Blue Jackets are eight points behind the Penguins but have played one fewer game.

It’s no secret what they have to do, either – it starts in their own end and sticking to their team-defense approach against the Penguins’ stacked offense.

“They obviously have a ton of skill over there, and we’re going to have to play physical,” Nick Foligno told BlueJackets.com. “It’s not even so much running around and hitting them, it’s just being physical and not giving them time and space; when you give Crosby and Malkin room, they’re going to make you pay.

“That will be our focus – making sure we’re strong on pucks, we’re battling and making it a physical hockey game that might make it more difficult for them.”

Adrenaline is going to be a factor, nerves might a factor, but at the end of the day the Blue Jackets know their avenue for success is paved by being hard to play against in all three zones.

They want to play an energetic and in-your-face game, and with that mentality also comes a need for discipline; in facing a team with a potent power play and two of the league’s most dangerous forwards, the Jackets can ill afford to give the Penguins anything for free.

“We’re not a team that can afford to do that with anybody,” Foligno said. “We have to make sure we stay disciplined because their power play is dangerous. If we make it a hard, heavy game, we’re a team that can play that style and make it tough on them.”

Letestu, who started his NHL career in Pittsburgh and knows the Penguins organization well, echoed Foligno’s assessment.

“You want to limit your turnovers,” Letestu said. “They’re a team that preys on that and especially through the neutral zone. They’re really quick to their offense, too; we need some better puck decisions than what we’ve been having lately and that’s going to go a long way.”

“It’s just getting up to play the Pittsburgh Penguins,” Foligno said. “They’ve done a great job in becoming an elite team in the league and I think people respect them, but we also want to see how we match up. It’s always a battle and I think that makes it even more impressive, because everyone they play wants to give them their best game. It’s a matter of us going out and playing our style. When we’re a physical team, we’re a good team.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Johnson 1 1 1 0 2
D. MacKenzie 1 1 0 0 1
M. Letestu 1 1 0 1 1
B. Dubinsky 1 0 1 1 1
B. Jenner 1 0 1 -1 1
F. Tyutin 1 0 0 -1 0
J. Wisniewski 1 0 0 0 0
B. Comeau 1 0 0 -1 0
N. Nikitin 1 0 0 0 0
J. Skille 1 0 0 -1 0
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Bobrovsky 0 1 0 .875 4.07
 
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