Preview: Blue Jackets vs. Penguins
BLUE JACKETS VS. PENGUINS
SATURDAY, 7 PM | NATIONWIDE ARENA
WATCH: FOX Sports Ohio | LISTEN: 97.1 The Fan
On the heels of last night's 4-2 loss to the Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said he was contemplating some roster changes for the second half of this weekend's home-and-home series.
He was asked directly about changing goaltenders after Sergei Bobrovsky allowed three goals on 13 shots, but Richards reiterated his stance from earlier in the week that it was something he and the coaches would discuss in the hours leading up to Saturday's game. On one hand, Bobrovsky struggled but he should be well-rested and motivated to have another crack at the Penguins.
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On the back end, Richards also said it's possible that Nikita Nikitin could get back into the lineup on Saturday. The big Russian blue liner hasn't played since the Jackets' 4-1 loss in Washington on October 19, but it's unclear at this point who would sit if Nikitin plays.
While the Blue Jackets didn't play their worst game of the season last night, they know there are certain areas of their game that need cleaned up if they're to bounce back tonight.
For most of the first period, they managed the puck well against a Penguins team that makes you pay for mistakes. The special teams battle favored the Penguins and they opened the scoring seven minutes into the game on a power play goal, and coupled with the Jackets' inability to cash in on the power play, Pittsburgh's pair of power play tallies went a long way toward securing two points on Friday.
Back on home ice, it's even more important for the Blue Jackets to establish their forechecking game tonight and set the tone. Much like RJ Umberger said prior to Friday's game, for the Jackets to have success against the Penguins, they have to make a it physical game and make them work for every inch of the ice; also atop the priority list is to limit their time in the penalty box and keep the potent Pittsburgh power play off the ice.
And in the grand scheme, it's another opportunity for the Blue Jackets to take a step up the ladder in the Metropolitan Division.
With 10 points to their credit, the Jackets (5-7-0) have another stretch of four straight home games on deck beginning tonight, making a strong rebound performance rather significant. Aside from the Penguins, no team has really pulled away from the pack in the division, and there are 4-5 teams jockeying for the second and third playoff spots in the Metropolitan.
For the Penguins, Jeff Zatkoff is expected to get the start in Columbus tonight. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said previously that he'd like to get both of his goaltenders into action this weekend, making it possible that tonight's game at Nationwide Arena could be a battle of the back-ups.
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