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Insider Only Pens – Blue Jackets Post Morning Skate Buzz: A confident Penguins room

Some Quick Hits from today’s Morning Skate…….
— While many pundits are down on the Penguins chances of winning the Stanley Cup, this is a confident Penguins locker room going into Game 1. “This year our goal is to win the Cup,” winger Jussi Jokinen said.
“You have to have everything going in the right direction,” James Neal said of winning in the playoffs. “You have to have defense, scoring, goaltending and we have that. We gotta show that we can do that to a man and {everyone} be accountable.”…….”We’re getting healthy at the right time and that’s all that matters.”

— Lots of talk around the arena of the experience factor in the Penguins favor having a big impact in this series. Often times it’s overrated but Game 1 is usually the toughest game for an inexperienced club. “They belong. If they made the playoffs, they belong,” Neal said of the Blue Jackets.

Sidney Crosby admitted that this is probably the healthiest he has been going into the playoffs since 2009. “This is what you play for all year,” Crosby said. “I think you just get excited to compete.”
Crosby had nothing but praise for budding superstar Ryan Johansen. “He can skate, see’s the ice really well,” Crosby said. “Has a great shot. From what I notice….gets his shot off really quick. Got a lot behind it, I think that and combined with how he thinks the game, allows him to create a lot, not just for himself but guys around him.”

— Buzz in Blue Jackets circles is that getting Nick Foligno (knee) back will be a key for them in this series. The two day break could help and he is a maybe for Game 2. One individual told me what Pascal Dupuis means to the Pittsburgh Penguins is what Foligno means to the Blue Jackets.

— Should the Penguins be expecting for Columbus to come out and try to out physical the Penguins? Players inside the Blue Jackets room can’t stop bringing up the Philadelphia Flyers and how they get the Penguins off their game. Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards, though, tried to distance his team from thinking they have to play like the Flyers.

“We aren’t going into this thinking we have to play like the Flyers,” Richards said. “We’re going to play like the Columbus Blue Jackets.” Richards made it clear he wants the Blue Jackets to set their own identity, not try to be someone else.

Dan Bylsma in playoff mode called the Penguins lineup “game time”, though, everyone in the building knows that Evgeni Malkin and Joe Vitae are playing tonight. “I’m sure Geno will jump in and be himself,” Neal said of Malkin.

— Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski on the battle level going up a lot of notches in the playoffs: “The hitters hit harder and the skill guys hit.”
Tidbits: Marcel Goc skated briefly today in a very light skate. Goc tried to skate yesterday but couldn’t. He is not close to returning and don’t expect him back until late in the series if at all….. In addition to Foligno, R.J. Umberger is a possibility to play in Game 2………Kris Letang with 13 career playoff goals, is 2 goals away from tying Larry Murphy for the most playoff goals among defenseman in franchise history….

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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