Columbus Blue Jackets vs Pittsburgh Penguins: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

Where: PPG Paints Arena – Pittsburgh, PA.

When: Thursday, March 7, 7PM EST.

How (TV/Radio): TVA, NBC Sports, ATT SportsNet PIT | WFAN

Columbus Blue Jackets (Away)

Head Coach: John Tortorella {All-Time 611-488-37-104 CBJ, VAN, NYR, TBL}

Coach John Tortorella is already mixing things up with his new roster as the newly acquired Adam McQuaid, picked up at the trade deadline, has already been a healthy scratch. The Blue Jackets start a road trip this week starting in New Jersey and with a coach as unpredictable as Tortorella, it’s hard to guess who will be playing Thursday night against the Penguins.

The Blue Jackets have only gone 4-6 in their last ten and have said they need to find a spark; some chemistry between their lines that help them start early. The Blue Jackets need to find a way to get the first goal and stay ahead as lately they’ve been playing from behind.

Columbus’ biggest strength is their ability to play smart and stay calm. They are third in the league for the least amount of penalties taken and third in the league when killing penalties. This is good for the Jackets as they will be facing quite a formidable powerplay in the Penguins should they take unnecessary penalties. They are also 19-10-1 on the road this season.

Most other statistics between the two clubs are tight, and that explains why they are only two points apart in the standings. This game could very well come down to a goaltending duel.

It is expected that starter Sergei Bobrovsky will be between the pipes against the Penguins. Bobrovsky is 27-21-1 this season with a goals against average of 2.85 and a save percentage of .904. He has five shutouts.

Pittsburgh Penguins (Home)

Head Coach: Mike Sullivan {All-Time 234-144-15-54 PIT, BOS}

It’s also tough to say exactly what type of team will hit the ice Thursday night for the Penguins as they currently have four different players listed as day-to-day from injuries at the time of writing. Most notable is defenseman Kris Letang who is listed as having an upper-body injury. However, Letang and defenseman Olli Maatta have been seen skating. Nothing will be official until game day.

Statistically, the Pens sit one spot and two points ahead of their opponents. They come in having every offensive advantage by the numbers with the exception of faceoff wins in which they are tied with the Blue Jackets for 17th in the league (49.9 percent).

Pittsburgh’s disadvantages come on the defensive end, but those numbers could be misleading should Letang and Maatta both return in time for this game. They are currently 18th in goals allowed (3.08), 27th in shots allowed (33.5), 15th in penalty minutes taken (8.6), and 18th in penalty killing (80.1 percent success).

Goalie Matt Murray should get the start against this revamped offensive Blue Jackets team. Murray is 20-10-3 on the season thus far. He has a goals against average of 2.90 and a .913 save percentage. He has three shutouts on the season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins took the last contest between the two teams, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets with a final score of 5-2 back on February 26.

What’s At Stake?

These are two big points for both teams. The Metropolitan division is always tight when it comes to the playoff race. Currently, the Blue Jackets sit in third place while the Penguins are seated in the first wildcard spot for the East. Neither team can afford many more losses this season – especially within the division. This is will be a huge win for either team.

Questions to answer

What will Pittsburgh’s blue line look like by game time? Will Letang and Maatta be cleared to play?

Will Columbus newcomers Duchene, Dzingel, et al continue to flourish with their new club?

Can Vezina trophy winning goalie Bobrovsky shut down the Penguins fifth-highest scoring offense in the league?

Columbus Blue Jackets Injury Report

F Riley Nash – day-to-day (undisclosed)

D Ryan Murray – IR (upper-body)

Pittsburgh Penguins Injury Report

D Chad Ruhwedel – day-to-day (upper-body)

F Bryan Rust – day-to-day (lower-body)

D Kris Letang – day-to-day (upper-body)

D Brian Dumoulin – day-to-day (concussion)

D Olli Maatta – IR (upper-body)

Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins Predictions and Odds

The Pittsburgh Penguins (-140) are picked as the favourites over the Columbus Blue Jackets (+115).