The Penguins will go with basically the same lineup tonight that played against the Lightning on Wednesday.
Chris Minard will be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. Alex Goligoski and Philippe Boucher will be the Penguins scratches on the blue line. Only way Goligoski gets in the lineup tonight is if Therrien decides to use him at wing on the fourth line and sit Eric Godard, which Therrien is believed to be considering.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be on seperate lines tonight.
From what I’ve been told Luca Caputi will likely see his ice time increase tonight and will move around a bit from the third line to one of the top two lines in certain situations. The Penguins limited his ice time against the Lightning because Caputi was playing in back-to-back games
Miroslav Satan will be in the lineup
Orpik, Scuder, Eaton, Letang, Whitney, Gill
Blue Jackets Lineup
Nash – Malhotra – Huselius
Modin – Umberger – Voracek
Chimera – Williams – Boll
Torres – Peca – Murray
Blue Jackets goaltender Wade Dubielewicz will start in goal for the Blue Jackets. Rookie goaltender Steve Mason (mono) did not make the trip to Pittsburgh. Mason is 19-12-2, 2.03 GAA on the season for the Blue Jackets. Dubielewicz is 0-1-0 on the season with a 4.88 GAA. Good opportunity for the Penguins
Analysis of Tonight’s Matchup
Pittsburgh 25-23-5: The Penguins locker room was very loose this morning. You get the feeling that the team believes they are about to turn the corner but we also heard that after they beat the Rangers last week 6-2. Despite the magical comeback they had on Wednesday, there were a lot of things I didn‚Äôt like from that game.
Columbus comes into tonight‚Äôs game without rookie goaltender Steve Mason. This is a great opportunity for the Penguins to take advantage of Mason not being in the lineup. Tonight is a must win with Detroit and San Jose coming to town. Penguins have to build some momentum going into Sunday‚Äôs game against the defending champs.
As expected Michel Therrien will separate Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby is back to playing with Pascal Dupuis and Tyler Kennedy/Miroslav Satan. Satan and Kennedy alternated during the morning skate.
The Blue Jackets are 8-2-1 against the Eastern Conference but are 16-20-4 within their conference
Gonchar Picking up regiment
Defenseman Sergei Gonchar went through his toughest workout this morning. Gonchar was on the ice about 45 minutes prior to the Penguins took the ice at 10:30 a.m. Gonchar took over 100 wrist and slap shots and went through some rigorous hitting drills.
My prediction last week was February 19th against the Montreal but I‚Äôm told next week will begin the Gonchar watch. Hopefully the coaching staff doesn’t mishandle his ice time like they did with Ryan Whitney.
Ruslan Fedotenko is very close to returning
Columbus (24-22-5): The Blue Jackets are not a team the Penguins can overlook. The Jackets blueline is very vulnerable especially with Mason out of the lineup. The Penguins need to attack them and the Jackets struggle moving the puck against a strong fore-check.
Offensively Rick Nash is a gifted player and he is a strong two way player. He doesn‚Äôt huge numbers (22 goals ‚Äì 25 assists ‚Äì 47 pts) but he can dominate a game at both ends of the ice. Penguins need to keep an eye on Nash when their on the power play. He is dangerous on the penalty kill and creates a lot of opportunities
Pittsburgh native R.J. Umberger has 16 goals on the year for the Jackets. Umberger signed a four year – $15 million deal this past summer.