Division Leading Penguins Invade Nationwide As Blue Jackets Search For Sixth Straight Win


Even with a couple nights sleep, its still hard to believe the Columbus Blue Jackets have rattled off five wins in a row. They looked really solid on Thursday against the Washington Capitals, in which Nick Foligno scored two goals, one of which was the game winner with under 30 seconds to play in overtime. Kind of hard to believe this is the same season which saw the Jackets have a nine game losing streak, huh?

If you’re like me and you use NHL Gamecenter Live to watch the Blue Jackets, you prefer to watch the away broadcast for games. Nothing against Rimer or the FS Ohio team, it’s just interesting to see how opposing teams see the Jackets. But, that is neither here nor there. The reason I bring it up is because every time its talked about what the expectations were for Columbus coming into the year, its always surrounded by mention of the playoff series last year with Pittsburgh, and how closely contested it was.

Well, we finally have our rematch. For the first time since the Pens knocked CBJ out a year ago, they’ll meet in a game that counts for something as Pittsburgh comes into Nationwide Arena. And, if tradition holds, NWA will be 70% Penguins fans. Please don’t let that happen.

The Penguins were dealt just their sixth loss of the season on Monday and are coming off a 3-1 over Calgary last night. Over the span in which the Jackets have won five straight, Pittsburgh has gone 3-2. That’s something, right?

The Pens will be without Sidney Crosby as he awaits to see if he has the mumps or not, but they will be with leading goal scorer and second most point getter Evgeni Malkinwho has 15 goals and 33 points so far this year. It’ll be interesting to see if the Pens use Lumbus as back-up central between the pipes. If not, then it’ll be Marc-Andre Flurey and his 2.16 goals against average going against a team that, as the wins are mounting, so is the confidence to score.

While goals are always a good thing, what has really given the Blue Jackets a boost is the play of Sergei Bobrovskyand he was fantastic again versus the Caps. In this win streak, Bob has racked up a .946 save percentage and a goals against of 1.80. In other words, the Bob we expected to see this year. What I want to know is is can Kevin Connauton continue his clutch goal streak? Since the Jackets claimed him, that’s all he’s done – score a game winner and score a game tier. Clutch clutch clutch.

If the Blue Jackets have any shot at extending their streak to six, they have to stay out of the penalty box. We know almost as good as anyone how a great power play can spark a team, and the Pens are one of the few teams in the league better than Columbus with the man advantage. In fact, the Pens are better than every team with the man advantage, as they rank first in the NHL with a 29.1 power play percentage. Not bad, not bad.

The rivalry is about to be renewed for another season, and I so badly want to get the taste of last April out of my mouth. Streaking on to six would be sweet, but doing it against Pittsburgh would be even sweeter.