A preview of the Blue Jackets.
When and where: 6 p.m. EST. Nationwide Arena.
TV: Root Sports, Fox Sports, Ohio.
Record: 17-17-4, 38 points. The Blue Jackets are in fifth place in the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division.
Leading Scorer: Ryan Johansen, 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists).
Last Game: 2-1 road shootout win against the Devils, Friday. Curtis McElhinney made 16 saves for the Blue Jackets.
Last Game against the Penguins: 2-1 road loss, Dec. 9. McElhinney made 28 saves.
Blue Jackets Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Artem Anisimov (right). He has points in four consecutive games.
Ex-Penguins on the Blue Jackets: Ryan Craig, C; Mark Letestu, C; Craig Patrick, senior advisor of hockey operations; Todd Richards, head coach (Richards was formerly the head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins), Ville Siren, head amateur scout.
Ex-Blue Jackets on the Penguins: None.
Useless Blue Jackets Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Blue Jackets Ryan Murray, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, has played 38 games in his NHL career. The only other defenseman from that draft who has appeared in more games is Olli Maatta (40).
Best Blue Jackets Video We Could Find: Former Blue Jackets center Vaclav Prospal getting a 10-minute misconduct after taunting the Red Wings by pointing at the scoreboard last season:
Probable goaltenders: Jeff Zatkoff (6-2-0, 2.46 GAA, .912 SV%) for the Penguins. Curtis McElhinney (6-5-1, 2.43 GAA, .921 SV%) for the Blue Jackets.
Injuries: For the Penguins, center Evgeni Malkin ("lower-body") is day to day. Defensemen Kris Letang ("upper body"), Paul Martin (leg), Rob Scuderi (ankle), right winger Beau Bennett (hand/wrist), Pascal Dupuis (knee), centers Andrew Ebbett (ankle), Jayson Megna ("lower body"), and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clots) are on injured reserve. For the Blue Jackets, center Derek MacKenzie ("upper body") is a game-time decision. Left winger Matt Calvert ("upper body") is day to day. Right wingers Jared Boll (ankle), Marian Gaborik (collar bone), Nathan Horton (shoulder), goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (groin) and defenseman Dalton Prout ("upper body") are on injured reserve.
Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins' held an optional morning skate today. Their lines and defensive pairings during yesterday's practice were:
14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 46 Joe Vitale
23 Chris Conner - 36 Jussi Jokinen - 18 James Neal
49 Brian Gibbons - 16 Brandon Sutter - 12 Chuck Kobasew
15 Tanner Glass - 36 Zach Sill - 27 Craig Adams
2 Matt Niskanen - 3 Olli Maatta
44 Brooks Orpik - 5 Deryk Engelland
41 Robert Bortuzzo - 47 Simon Despres
-The Blue Jackets primary lines and defensive pairings at today's morning skate were:
71 Nick Foligno – 19 Ryan Johansen – 18 R.J. Umberger
17 Brandon Dubinsky – 42 Artem Anisimov – 13 Cam Atkinson
14 Blake Comeau – 24 Derek MacKenzie – 5 Jack Skille
38 Boone Jenner – 55 Mark Letestu – 26 Corey Tropp
51 Fedor Tyutin – 7 Jack Johnson
27 Ryan Murray – 21 James Wisniewski
6 Nikita Nikitin – 58 David Savard
-The last time the Penguins played the Blue Jackets, this happened:
-"I just talked to the coaches about it. I said I’m ready to play. I’m a player, they’re a coach, so it’s their decision." - Scuderi on his status for tonight's game.
-Comeau has appeared in 399 career games.
-“I take it personally, that we have to do a better job of getting more of our people in the building. But it does create a great atmosphere, as long as the game stays [competitive] and close. It can get ugly if it goes in one direction.” - Richards on Penguins fans "invading" Nationwide Arena.
-The Blue Jackets recalled Craig from Springfield of the AHL in the event MacKenzie can't play.
“I guess the message is, without me saying it (to him) … ‘I believe in you, and I trust you,’ ” Richards said. “People get caught up in the numbers — what’s going on with the player, how many games it’s been since he scored, or where he’s at versus last season. But as a coach, you have to look past those things. I look right past the numbers. He does a lot of good things for us.”- See more at: http://bluejacketsxtra.dispatch.com/content/stories/2013/12/29/richards-keeps-faith-in-slumping-letestu.html#sthash.jXjvYFtJ.dpuf
“I guess the message is, without me saying it (to him) … ‘I believe in you, and I trust you.' People get caught up in the numbers — what’s going on with the player, how many games it’s been since he scored, or where he’s at versus last season. But as a coach, you have to look past those things. I look right past the numbers. He does a lot of good things for us.”- Richards on Letestu who has only scored one goal this season.
-Our live blog, direct from our couch, begins at approximately 5:45 p.m. Please tune in.
(Photo: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)