NHL on NBCSN: Penguins host Blue Jackets

10 Comments

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign as Pittsburgh Penguins host the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Consol Energy Center at 7:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Boy, a lot has changed since the Columbus Blue Jackets made the Pittsburgh Penguins in their 2014 playoff series.

The Penguins changed up their front office and at least attempted to shift away from a top-heavy lineup to a more balanced attack. Columbus dealt with Ryan Johansen’s contract negotiations (and have since enjoyed phenomenal bang-for-the-buck from that rising star), mind-numbing injury issues and plenty of turbulence to the point that its playoff hopes are pegged at .1 percent.

In a more immediate view, both teams seem to come into this one licking their wounds a bit. The Penguins have lost two in a row and Sidney Crosby’s been struggling – by his high standards – while the Blue Jackets remain feisty but far from 100 percent.

Nick Foligno is the latest Columbus player bit by the injury bug, and it remains to be seen if he can play tonight. It’s a real shame, too, as NBCSN audiences would get a chance to see a player who continues to defy expectations by playing at an All-Star level.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $30,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Thursday night’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts Thursday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

However, if you take a step back, it seems like the two teams have the potential to build a rivalry much like Ohio State and Penn State would logically butt heads in college football.

The Blue Jackets have had lousy luck this season, but they’re still frequently a tough out. They have enough animosity built up against the Penguins that they weren’t going to lie down anyway, yet it seems like that’s not really in this team’s nature in the first place.

Crosby’s scoring problems ape the Penguins’ lack of scoring punch overall. They’ve only scored a goal apiece in each of the last two games and their power play is currently 0-for-18 in February.

It all shapes up to be an interesting game with plenty of snarl. Tune into NBCSN to catch the action.