Dec 29, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik (44) blocks the shot by Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson (13) during the second period at Nationwide Arena. Pittsburgh beat Columbus 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs Columbus Blue Jackets

Pittsburgh Penguins (M1) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (W1)

Schedule

DATE

TIME (ET)

WEDNESDAY,APRIL 16

7:30 P.M.

SATURDAY, APRIL 19

7 P.M.

MONDAY, APRIL 21

7 P.M.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23

7 P.M.

*SATURDAY, APRIL 26

7 P.M.

*MONDAY, APRIL 28

TBD

*WEDNESDAY APRIL 30

TBD

“Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear” would be an appropriate warning regarding the playoff series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Penguins dominated the Metropolitan Division during the regular season (sitting in first place since the beginning of the season), particularly the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Penguins outscored the Blue Jackets in the five game series sweep 16-7. While the two teams are geographic rivals, the Penguins appeared to be on a different level of play.

So at first glance, one would surmise that this will be an easy four-game sweep for the Penguins. Well, that may not be the case. Sure Pittsburgh had their way with Columbus during the regular season, but Pittsburgh had to face Sergei Bobrovsky just once during their five games. In the one game they did face Bobrovsky, the Vezina winner was coming down with the flu.

Another factor pointing to an even series between these two teams is Pittsburgh’s inconsistency during the post-season, especially between the pipes. Let’s not forget the Penguins had to rely on Tomas Vokoun last season, when Marc-Andre Fleury proved to be a liability in net. This season Vokoun will not be available for relief and Fleury’s backup is rookie Jeff Zatkoff, who has also been inconsistent during the post-season at the AHL level. The Penguins fortunes rest solely on their defense and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Let’s not forget though that the Pittsburgh Penguins have one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL and the Columbus Blue Jackets are a young team with very little playoff experience. The Blue Jackets will also be without forward Nathan Horton for the next six weeks. While he was not present in the lineup for the majority of the season, Horton’s playoff experience would be valuable in this series.

Prediction:

Pittsburgh in 6

Columbus is going to give the Penguins a good series, but the Penguins have offensive talent and experience on their side. The Columbus Blue Jackets have yet to win a single playoff game, but taking the Penguins to game 6 will show that this team is ready to run with the big boys of the NHL.

Blue Jackets vs. Penguins tickets

Tags: Columbus Blue Jackets Eastern Conference Metropolitan Division Pittsburgh Penguins

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