The Columbus Blue Jackets have exonerated their early season troubles and have turned this season into what has been somewhat of a success. Ignore the 0-9 start and the Jackets have been playing pretty decent hockey. John Tortorella took the reigns and ran away with things in Columbus. This isn’t a team to pay attention for any playoff run this season, but you might want to pay attention to them in the coming years. Perhaps an 8th or 7th seed looks reasonable for the Blue Jackets, granted, they make the right decisions in the offseason. If they add some extra talent and improve their defense, look out, the Blue Jackets should be a pretty good team. The most important thing is to address their defense. The offense has played well, but the offensive unit could need another addition as well. The biggest challenge will be attracting players to want to come to Columbus and play. Money talks but the Blue Jackets have never been a team to spend their money wildly. If they want to become a legitimate playoff team, they’re going to need to spend a little bit of money.
The Penguins on the other hand, are looking to get back to the promise land. The Pens last won the Stanley Cup back during the 2008-09 season. Plenty of their mainstays on that roster are still here, notably Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Marc-Andre Fleury. Crosby got off to such a slow start that caused people to get a little concerned. I wasn’t really concerned, as I expected Crosby to get going. That has certainly come to fruition, as Crosby has accumulated 28 goals and 38 assists this season. Looking at the way things were going early, that is some impressive numbers for such a short time.
The Penguins have been topsy-turvy though as a team this season. Pittsburgh enters with a record of 34-24-2. They are no longer the perennial powerhouse we saw years ago. The rival Capitals have passed them in that capacity, but the Penguins have the hardware, the Capitals have yet to parlay a good regular season into a Stanley Cup. Could this be their year? Could the Penguins play the spoiler and make a strong run? All of our answers will be answered shortly. In the meantime, how about we try and cash in on this matchup between the Penguins and Blue Jackets in Columbus tonight.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Pick
The Blue Jackets have improved on their terrible start to make it to 28-31-8. That almost feels like a miracle. For a minute there it was looking like the Blue Jackets were easily going to finish this season as the worst team in the NHL. If the Jackets finish above .500, this season will actually be looked at as a success. I tip my hat to Tortorella and the work he has done, taking this team over after the year started. Like I said, the defense needs some attention. Note that the Blue Jackets are 26th in the NHL with regards to goals against per game. In their last ten games, they have been dead even offensively and defensively, scoring 2.9 goals while allowing 2.9 goals per game. The big news for the Blue Jackets is that goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has been activated. We expect Bobrosvky to get the start tonight. He hasn’t played since January 21st.
The Penguin offense has been playing well lately, scoring 3.20 goals per game in their last ten games. They are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Islanders. However, they have scored at least 4 goals in half of their last ten outings. The Penguins are 5-0 in their last five games after scoring less than 2 goals the previous game. I expect some rust from Bobrovsky if he indeed does get the start in net. He held a 2.65 GAA and 0.911 save percentage. Rookie Joonas Korpisalo did a fine job as his replacement. I see the Penguins getting back in the win column tonight in Columbus. The Pens are fighting for the playoffs and have no room for error the rest of the season. I expect a composed and focused effort from Crosby and company tonight on the road.
PICK: PENGUINS TO WIN -129