Coming off a huge, perhaps controversial, and extremely exciting win over Detroit on Tuesday, the Jackets have to stay strong tonight as they face the Pittsburgh Penguins in another crucial game. The post-season is hanging in the balance once again, and the Jackets really need to find a way to top the best team in their division tonight.
So far this year, the Jackets have dropped all four regular season games against the Pens. They have to find a way to get their game together and not drop this last one. The Penguins played last night, but the Jackets haven’t played since Tuesday. That means they need to come out hard and take advantage of the extra rest they’ve had. Every advantage over Pittsburgh needs to be taken advantage of.
Perhaps the best news for Columbus going into tonight’s game is the Penguins’ loss of Evgeni Malkin due to injury. Of course Pittsburgh has plenty of other stars the Jackets will have to shut down, but not having to face both Crosby and Malkin gives a little room for relief.
The bad news, however, is the possible sickness of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Many fans were confused in Nationwide on Tuesday when Curtis McElhinney came out to start the second period for Columbus, while those listening on TV or radio found out he was sick. We later learned he had the flu. He is expected to back in net tonight, but we won’t know for sure until game time. Hopefully he will be feeling well enough to give Columbus a spectacular night in net, because they’ll certainly need it against Pittsburgh’s offense.
Being in a four-way tie for two Playoff spots is not a comfortable place to be. The Red Wings play the Maple Leafs tomorrow, which means if the Jackets don’t win either tonight or tomorrow, at least one team will get an edge on them. The Capitals play the Bruins tomorrow as well, so they also have a chance to pick up two points. Tonight’s first of back-to-back games is a great chance for the Jackets to bring all they’ve got and pick up two point on a night when no one they are tied with has a game.
It’s certainly a good chance, but the Jackets can’t play like they have in the recent past against Pittsburgh. They need to come out firing on all cylinders, and not let up until they capture the two points. Let’s hope it’s a good game! Go Jackets!