By: Casey Johnston (@CaseyR82)
Last Game for the Penguins: Saturday, a 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins. The Penguins got out of the first period with a 2-1 lead with goals from Chris Kunitz and James Neal. They held that lead until the final 1:30 minutes of the game when David Krejci and Zdeno Chara scored just over a minute apart. Marc-Andre Fleury faced 30 shots while Tuukka Rask faced 21. Of course, there was more to this game than goals and shots. More on that later.
Last Game for the Blue Jackets: Friday, a 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild. The Blue Jackets got goals from Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner, and R.J. Umberger. Curtis McElhinney stopped all 20 shots he faced. Niklas Backstrom faced 41 shots for the Wild.
Last Time These Two Teams Met: November 2, 2013. The Penguins defeated the Blue Jackets for the second straight night 3-0. Deryk Engelland, Chris Kunitz, and Jussi Jokinen got goals for the Penguins, who registered 26 shots against Blue Jackets goalie Curtis McElhinney.
Last 10 Games for the Penguins: 7-2-1.
Last 10 Games for the Blue Jackets: 6-4.
Story of the Game: This is usually the section of the game preview where I highlight a certain player or point out something good or bad about the play of the Penguins. Unfortunately, today’s story of the game has little to do about the actual game of hockey, and that’s a damn shame because the game of hockey is something I love. By now you know what happened in Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins. Say what you will about the actions of a couple players who marred a perfectly good hockey game, just don’t say anything was justified. Use it as an anti-fighting talking point. Use it to start a discussion on player safety. Use it as another excuse to criticize the NHL’s disciplinary system. Can we just agree that there’s no place in hockey for what James Neal did to Brad Marchand or what Shawn Thornton did to Brooks Orpik? The NHL can do what it wants to curb this type of nonsense, but it starts with the players. This time last year, the players were in lock-step with each other in a fight with the owners over the split of hockey-related revenue. Why can’t they be in lock-step with each other over their own safety? Am I supposed to believe that Shawn Thornton cares about Brooks Orpik getting an extra seven percent cut of hockey-related revenue but not that he cares about Orpik playing hockey again anytime soon? I don’t buy that, but until players show that they care about each other’s safety with their actions and not just their words, then what happened last night will happen again, and it will be just as foolish.
Penguins All-Time Record Against the Blue Jackets: 11-4-0-1.
Player to Watch on the Penguins: Simon Despres. He has two points in his last two games. He should also be getting bigger minutes with the absence of Brooks Orpik.
Player to Watch on the Blue Jackets: Curtis McElhinney had a shutout last Friday and helped preserve Sergei Bobrovsky’s shutout after he went down with an injury last Tuesday.