Preview: Blue Jackets At Penguins
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[April 16, 2014]
After facing little resistance from
the Columbus Blue Jackets during the regular season, the Pittsburgh
Penguins look to maintain their dominance when they host their
Metropolitan Division rivals in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference
first-round series on Wednesday. Pittsburgh, which comfortably won the
division title, outscored Columbus by a decisive 16-7 margin and trailed
for only 56 seconds of the 300-minute span to win all five meetings.
While appreciative of his team's display, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was
quick to squelch any parade plans by saying that "I'll tell you in two
weeks whether that's a good thing. I don't think (the sweep) has any
bearing on this series."
Despite being on the wrong end of the broom, Columbus has reason
for optimism as it makes the second postseason appearance in
franchise history. The Blue Jackets were without arguably their
primary weapon in Sergei Bobrovsky, who played in just one of the
five meetings. Then again, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner yielded
three goals on 13 shots before making an early exit in a 4-2 setback
to Pittsburgh on Nov. 1.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, FSN Ohio (Columbus), ROOT (Pittsburgh)
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (43-32-7, 4th in Metropolitan Division):
Columbus' previous playoff experience was over in the blink of an
eye as Detroit unceremoniously swept the Blue Jackets in the first
round of the 2009 postseason. The 21-year-old Ryan Johansen
obviously was not involved in that series, but he would like a
longer stay for Columbus this time around as he enters the series
with a team-leading 33 goals and 63 points. He is expected to be
reunited with linemate Brandon Dubinsky, who joined rookie
defenseman Ryan Murray in returning to practice on Monday.
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (51-24-7, 1st in Metropolitan Division): Former
Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin (foot) joined fellow injured center
Joe Vitale (mid-body) on the ice for Tuesday's practice, but Bylsma
wasn't making any declarations about either player's availability.
"We'll see how they are and react before we talk about what our
lineup is going to be for (Wednesday's) game," Bylsma said. Malkin,
who has been sidelined for 11 games, admitted that he felt great and
was "not in pain and nothing is sore."
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Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby scored two goals and set up five
others in the season series, registering a three-point performance
(one tally, two assists) in his team's 5-3 win on Dec. 29.
Columbus LWs R.J. Umberger (upper body) and Nick Foligno (lower
body) skated in practice on Tuesday, prompting coach Todd Richards
to note that there is the possibility of the pair playing in Game 2
Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury helped his team to back-to-back
Stanley Cup appearances in 2008-09 but since has compiled a 14-16
mark with a 3.18 goals-against average in 31 postseason games.
SERIES PREDICTION: Penguins in 6
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