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Posted On Monday, 04.28.2014 / 1:23 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets without Umberger for Game 6

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards might have been thinking of how he'll match up with the Pittsburgh Penguins later Monday night in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round series when he committed a slip of the tongue: He actually revealed why left wing RJ Umberger would not play Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT) at Nationwide Arena instead of giving the "upper body" or "lower body" answer standard during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Shoulder, sorry, not feeling great … a little slip there," he said to laughter by the media. "Not feeling great, not 100 percent."

Richards regained his footing to not reveal the injury that will also keep defenseman Nikita Nikitin out of the lineup. There are no other changes expected.

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Posted On Monday, 04.28.2014 / 1:05 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins may pair Crosby, Malkin again in Game 6

COLUMBUS -- The Pittsburgh Penguins could play forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin together for the second consecutive game Monday.

The Penguins separated the two centers at the morning skate after using Crosby and Malkin on the same line throughout Game 5 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Malkin returned to the second line between forwards Jussi Jokinen and James Neal, while forward Lee Stempniak rejoined Crosby and forward Chris Kunitz.

But Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he expects to put Crosby and Malkin together through at least a portion of Game 6 Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, ROOT, FS-O) at Nationwide Arena. Crosby, who has five assists but no goals in the series, said he thinks he is playing well even if it isn't apparent on the score sheet.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.27.2014 / 3:49 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Facing elimination, Jackets enjoying underdog role

COLUMBUS -- Pressure? What pressure?

Facing elimination Monday from the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Columbus Blue Jackets insist they can handle what lies ahead in Game 6 at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

In fact, a day after the Penguins' 3-1 victory in Game 5 on Saturday at Consol Energy Center for a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series, Columbus coach Todd Richards used different terminology to describe the Blue Jackets' situation.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.27.2014 / 3:36 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets plan to crowd, distract Fleury in Game 6

COLUMBUS -- In the wake of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky being bombarded with 50 shots while being pushed, knocked down and high-sticked in Game 5, the Columbus Blue Jackets promise to make life difficult at the other end of the ice for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 on Monday at Nationwide Arena.

The Penguins took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series with a 3-1 home victory Saturday by limiting the Blue Jackets to 24 shots on Marc-Andre Fleury while being all over Bobrovsky.

Columbus plans to change that Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

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Posted On Sunday, 04.27.2014 / 1:00 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins looking to finish Blue Jackets in Game 6

PITTSBURGH -- If the Pittsburgh Penguins are to eliminate the Columbus Blue Jackets from the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday, they will need to break a pattern in the process.

Throughout the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series, led 3-2 by Pittsburgh, each team has responded to adversity. A trend has formed that involves one team taking an early lead before losing one game, then falling behind early before coming from behind to win the next.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said the Penguins joked following their 3-1 win in Game 5 on Saturday that they would consider handing Columbus a 1-0 lead to start Game 6 at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET; CBC, RDS2, ROOT, FS-O).

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Posted On Saturday, 04.26.2014 / 1:28 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins defenseman Orpik could miss Game 5

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik did not participate in the morning skate Saturday and could be sidelined for Game 5 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Consol Energy Center (7p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma did not provide an update on Orpik's condition.

Orpik, one of Pittsburgh's more physical defenseman, left Penguins practice Friday for undisclosed reasons.

"He's a big loss. Physically, he's our No. 1 leader as far as hits, the way he can change momentum with one of them," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "He kills a lot of penalties. He plays against top lines. So if he's not able to go it's going to be a big loss for us.

"Unfortunately, it's something we've had to deal with all season. Hopefully whatever the coaches decide to do with the pairings, [we] can step up and play the right way."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.26.2014 / 1:10 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets' Tyutin, Murray expected back for Game 5

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets could each have their lineups bolstered by returning players when they meet in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference First Round series Saturday at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin confirmed he will play Saturday after missing two games with a lower-body injury, and defenseman Ryan Murray (lower body) said he is a game-time decision. Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said he expects each to return to the lineup.

Penguins forward Marcel Goc, who has been sidelined for 13 games with a foot injury, will be a game-time decision.

Tyutin was paired with defenseman Nikita Nikitin and Murray skated with defenseman James Wisniewski during Columbus' skate Saturday morning. With the best-of-7 series tied 2-2, Murray expects each team to play with desperation.

"They've been a pretty intense four games," Murray said. "It's been a strange series. Each team has come back every game and has come back from deficits. We stole one in one another's barns and just know that no team is going to quit out there no matter what the score is.

"If you get a lead, it's not safe."

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Posted On Friday, 04.25.2014 / 3:50 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets' mantra: 2 wins down, 14 to go

COLUMBUS -- Jared Boll remembers the first time the Columbus Blue Jackets made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2009 in the eighth season of the franchise.

How could he forget? The longest-tenured Blue Jackets forward had not been back until this season.

That first foray five years ago resulted in a four-game loss to the Detroit Red Wings and the excitement was over in eight days.

This postseason has been unlike that short-lived run five years ago.

The Blue Jackets are tied 2-2 with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round best-of-7 seven series with Game 5 on Saturday at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

"[2009] was the first time this franchise ever made the playoffs," Boll said. "Obviously it was a goal of ours to make it and we made it.

"This year it's different. We're here now and expect to do good things. We're not satisfied with just making the playoffs."

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Posted On Friday, 04.25.2014 / 3:22 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins goalie Fleury moves on from Game 4

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said he made the wrong play, but he will not allow that to affect him moving forward in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Leading 3-2 with less than 30 seconds remaining in Game 4 on Wednesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Fleury left the net with a puck careening around the end boards. The puck hopped over Fleury's stick, which led to him scrambling to stop a shot from Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky that tied the game 3-3. Nick Foligno scored a long-distance goal 2:45 into overtime to give Columbus the win and tie the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series 2-2.

Dubinsky's late goal left Fleury face down in his crease.

Looking back on the play, Fleury said he should have remained in net, an opinion shared by Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. But at the time he thought he could make a play that would help clear the puck from Pittsburgh's zone and seal a victory.

"I think it's easy after, when you watch the video in slow motion. It's the wrong play when the puck goes in the net," Fleury said. "But as it happened, the puck was coming slow. I read I could stop it and it might be good to pick it up and get the puck out of the zone pretty quick. So that's why I went. The puck took a bad bounce and that's it."

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Posted On Friday, 04.25.2014 / 2:54 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets' Tyutin more likely to return in Game 5

COLUMBUS -- The news is mixed for two of the Columbus Blue Jackets' injured top-six defensemen.

Rookie Ryan Murray did not participate in practice Friday and is likely to miss a second straight game when the Eastern Conference First Round series returns to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT) at Consol Energy Center.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs best-of-7 series is tied at 2-2.

Murray was seen by a member of the media with a boot on his right foot prior to Game 4 on Wednesday in Columbus after leaving the morning skate early.

"Losing Murray is a big setback for us, but guys have stepped up and played some really good hockey," center Ryan Johansen said.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 4:28 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Day after rally, Richards sees Blue Jackets refocused

COLUMBUS -- Todd Richards knows his players well enough that the Columbus Blue Jackets coach is confident they're ready to move on from the Game 4 overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday in their Eastern Conference First Round series.

Brandon Dubinsky tied the score 3-3 with 24 seconds left in regulation and Nick Foligno thrilled the overflow crowd of 18,970 at Nationwide Arena with the winner at 2:49 of overtime to even the Stanley Cup Playoffs best-of-7 series at 2-2.

"I think our group is really focused on the next game," Richards said Thursday. "Early on in the year, I'm talking regular season, that was something we needed to learn and understand how to deal with success.

"There's an obvious high coming out of the last game, a good feeling coming out of last night's game, and I think our players will enjoy it today. They should, but we come in tomorrow and put it behind us and get ready for the next game."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 3:15 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Bylsma stresses Penguins must raise compete level

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins could have swept the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round. The Blue Jackets could have swept the Penguins.

Instead, their best-of-7 series is tied 2-2, which has left Penguins coach Dan Bylsma critical of Pittsburgh's effort after surrendering a three-goal lead in its 4-3 overtime loss in Game 4 on Wednesday.

"I think the work and compete and battle level has probably been the most troubling thing from our team," Bylsma said at his Thursday press conference. "In Game 3, after getting down two goals for 50, 55 minutes of that game, it wasn't perfect, but we were the desperate team. We took the game to them. Last night, we get up three goals in the game and they were the team that worked and competed and outbattled us for most of the duration of the game."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 2:28 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Bylsma expects Penguins' Fleury to atone for mistake

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made a mistake.

With less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation and the Penguins up 3-2 Wednesday, Fleury left his crease in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He attempted to retrieve a puck riding the boards behind the net, but it hopped over his stick and was passed to Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky.

Dubinsky hit the open net. Then 2:49 into overtime, forward Nick Foligno wristed a shot directly at Fleury. That one got through as well.

"He was our best player in the game last night and unfortunately a mistake with the bouncing puck there behind the net cost us in the last 30 seconds of the game," Bylsma said Thursday. "Typically, the rule of thumb is pucks on the glass, you stay in net. Pucks on the dasher, you have a truer read on the play. Given the time of the game, the puck gets rimmed in, the play is to stay in the net and not go out and attempt a play on the puck."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 7:08 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets defenseman Murray out for Game 4

COLUMBUS -- Defenseman Ryan Murray was scratched from the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, possibly because of an injury sustained during the morning skate when a shot hit his right foot.

Coach Todd Richards said after practice that Murray would play, but the rookie was not out for the warm-ups at Nationwide Arena, and defenseman Nick Schultz was paired with Dalton Prout. Nikita Nikitin will likely take Murray's spot as James Wisniewski's defense partner.


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Posted On Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 1:28 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets plan no changes to Game 4 lineup

COLUMBUS -- Rookie defenseman Ryan Murray will be in the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup Wednesday for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round series even though he left the morning skate early, coach Todd Richards said.

Murray underwent arthroscopic knee surgery March 7 and missed 15 games before returning April 4 against the Chicago Blackhawks. He played five more games, then sat the regular season finale April 12 against the Florida Panthers as a precaution.

He has played the first three games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins and has one assist while averaging 25:18 minutes of ice time.

Game 4 is 7 p.m. ET at Nationwide Arena (NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 1:16 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Holding leads no easy task for Penguins, Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets won't shy away from trying to score first or take a two-goal lead in Game 4, even though those situations seem cursed. Pittsburgh holds a 2-1 edge in the Eastern Conference First Round best-of-7 series that seems uncommon by Stanley Cup Playoff standards.

Columbus has twice scored the first goal and increased its lead to 3-1 before losing Game 1 and Game 3 by 4-3 scores. The Penguins scored first and led 3-1 in Game 2 but lost 4-3 in double overtime for the Blue Jackets' first playoff win in franchise history.

So what can be expected Wednesday in Game 4 at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT)?

"A 3-1 lead is good. I'll take a 3-1 lead any day in the playoffs," Columbus left wing Matt Calvert said. "It's kind of an interesting series. The team with the 3-1 lead seems to lose it. We've got to treat it like any regular-season game. Whether we're up or trailing, we have to keep fighting."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.22.2014 / 5:29 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins getting scoring from lesser lights

COLUMBUS -- No Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin nor James Neal in the goal column?

No problem so far for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hope to continue spreading the scoring if necessary to put a stranglehold on their Eastern Conference First Round series in Game 4 at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

The Penguins lead the best-of-7 series 2-1 and have 11 goals from seven players. Defenseman Matt Niskanen and forwards Brian Gibbons, Jussi Jokinen and Brandon Sutter each has two goals.

Crosby has extended his goal-scoring drought during the past two postseasons to eight games. Malkin's drought is at seven.

"We've gotten big goals from a lot of different people so far," forward Lee Stempniak said. "It's just a testament of how deep our team is."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.22.2014 / 4:50 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Bouncing back a familiar refrain for Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- The day after what could have been a devastating defeat instead saw the Columbus Blue Jackets looking forward to Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Columbus held a 3-1 lead in the third period of Game 3 before the Penguins scored three goals 2:13 apart Monday to grab a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series.

"Those are games you can't let slip away," Columbus forward RJ Umberger said. "We've got to regroup and come back for Game 4 with the same start and find the way to win.

"We're a confident group in here. We feel we've been close with them all year and feel this is a series that's going to go the distance. It's going to be a hard-fought battle here. There's still a lot of hockey left."

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Posted On Monday, 04.21.2014 / 2:16 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets' Tyutin out, but Foligno set to return

COLUMBUS – The Columbus Blue Jackets will be missing defenseman Fedor Tyutin for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series Monday against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Gibbons and Tyutin were injured Saturday during the Blue Jackets' 4-3 double overtime win that evened the series at 1-1.

Columbus, coming off the first postseason win in franchise history, will have wing Nick Foligno in the lineup after he sat the past seven games with a lower-body injury. Foligno had 18 goals in the regular season.

"He's going to come in and provide a little spark for us," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "There's some different elements that Nick brings. Nick can play different ways based on the skill set. He's big. He can skate. He's got a physical edge to him."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.20.2014 / 6:31 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Columbus has Blue Jackets fever after Game 2 win

COLUMBUS -- The cell phones in the Columbus Blue Jackets' dressing room at Center Energy Center started going crazy at 10:46 p.m. Saturday after Matt Calvert scored the winner in the second overtime for a historic 4-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Not only did Calvert's goal enable the Blue Jackets to even the Eastern Conference First Round series at a one game apiece, it was their first victory in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since entering the NHL as an expansion team for the 2000-01 season.

Obviously, the win meant a lot to the long-suffering fans, and the players could sense their joy from 185 miles to the east in Pittsburgh.

"It's huge," Columbus center Ryan Johansen said. "You just look at reading Twitter after the game, as simple as that, and seeing the excitement around the city."


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Posted On Sunday, 04.20.2014 / 6:16 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

No update on Blue Jackets' Tyutin; Foligno may return

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards didn't divulge any reasons in his postgame briefing Saturday why defenseman Fedor Tyutin left after one period of the Blue Jackets' 4-3 double overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Consol Energy Center.

He remained secretive Sunday.

"No update on Fedor," Richards said. "We aren't going to get into injuries or what's going on with guys. You guys can ask all you want."

He generally has been forthcoming this season, but this is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Columbus and Pittsburgh are tied at one game apiece heading into Game 3 Monday at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).


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Posted On Sunday, 04.20.2014 / 1:50 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins look to improve on special teams in Game 3

PITTSBURGH -- What was once the Pittsburgh Penguins' primary strength has turned into a weakness.

After coming back from a two-goal deficit to win Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Penguins surrendered a two-goal lead in their 4-3 double-overtime loss in Game 2 on Saturday. Special teams were a catalyst for Columbus in building a lead early Game 1 and evaporating Pittsburgh's lead in Game 2.

Five of the Blue Jackets' seven goals in the series have been scored via their special teams, including one shorthanded goal in each game. Columbus has cracked Pittsburgh's once-stellar power-play and penalty-killing units, which simultaneously topped the NHL rankings at one point during the regular season.

The Blue Jackets have been aggressive when down a man, leading to several shorthanded scoring opportunities. After Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert's shorthanded goal in the second period of Game 2, the Penguins allowed two more shorthanded chances during the same power play, including one off a 2-on-1.

"We need to take advantage of their aggressiveness," Penguins forward Chris Kunitz said. "We have to come in and possess the puck. If they're over-pursuing, somebody can make one play and put pucks to the net and score goals. When they do that, they second-guess themselves and get in between, and it really opens up the ice.

"So, puck possession, but also making that first play where they're being overaggressive and get caught in between, and we're going to have a lot of time to be able to shoot it."


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Posted On Saturday, 04.19.2014 / 1:12 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins preach awareness of Umberger around net

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins expect a physical game with forward RJ Umberger returning to the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup.

After missing five games due to an upper-body injury, Umberger will play against his hometown team in Game 2 of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series against Pittsburgh on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT). Umberger said he is excited to return in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center.

The feeling wasn't mutual in the Penguins locker room. They expect Umberger to attempt to own the crease in front of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and have prepared for his addition to bolster the Blue Jackets' performance.

"He's a big guy who brings physical play to their lineup," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "He's good in front of the net. He can score goals. He's a veteran guy who has a lot of experience, so I would expect [Columbus] to get a boost from that."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.19.2014 / 12:42 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Umberger returns for Blue Jackets; Foligno not ready

PITTSBURGH -- Columbus Blue Jackets forward RJ Umberger will return Saturday, and forward Nick Foligno remains sidelined for at least one more game.

Umberger will play in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Umberger missed the past five games, including the opener of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with an upper-body injury.

"It's definitely hard to watch, especially a playoff game in my hometown," Umberger said. "You want to be out there as much as you can, helping your guys and your team. It was hard, but I'm excited to be back tonight."

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Posted On Friday, 04.18.2014 / 2:34 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Murray embodies pluck of Blue Jackets' young talent

COLUMBUS -- Bloodied but undeterred describes the Stanley Cup Playoff experience for rookie defenseman Ryan Murray, one of 11 Columbus Blue Jackets players who made their postseason debuts Wednesday.

Murray took a hard but clean check by Pittsburgh Penguins forward Beau Bennett midway through the first period in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round best-of-7 series won by the Penguins 4-3.

The collision sent Murray to the bench with blood streaming from his nose that had to be plugged, but he returned to rack up 23:50 of ice time and his plus-1 rating was the only positive number among the Blue Jackets' six defensemen.

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Posted On Friday, 04.18.2014 / 2:18 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Foligno could join Umberger in returning for Jackets

COLUMBUS -- After saying Thursday that Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno would not play Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series, a day later coach Todd Richards is reconsidering.

Foligno, who has missed the past six games with a knee injury, had another excellent practice Friday and may make it hard for Richards to keep him out of the lineup when the Blue Jackets again chase the franchise's first Stanley Cup Playoff win Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT) against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Consol Energy Center.

The Penguins won Game 1 of the best-of-7 series 4-3 on Wednesday.

Richards will consult with athletic trainer Mike Vogt and Foligno after the morning skate Saturday.

"If you ask Nick, he wants to play tomorrow, but we've got to make the right decision," Richards said. "Sometimes you have to intervene because they just want to play. You don't want to put them in a risky position where they can make it worse."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.17.2014 / 3:38 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Jackets' Umberger possible for Game 2, Foligno out

COLUMBUS -- Protocol dictates RJ Umberger's return to the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup from an upper-body injury will be decided after consultation between him, the medical staff and coach Todd Richards.

Otherwise, the forward would have been on the ice Wednesday for the Blue Jackets' 4-3 loss at the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"If it was up to me I would have played last night," Umberger said Thursday when asked if he'll be ready for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round series Saturday at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Forward Nick Foligno (knee) said he is close to being cleared to play as well, but Richards offered a different opinion on his status.

"Foligno won't be in the lineup Saturday," he said. "We're hoping possibly Monday for Game 3. We're going to see how practice goes Friday for RJ. There's a possibility he can play in Game 2."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.17.2014 / 12:56 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins prepared to adjust lines to create matchups

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins lines could remain flexible throughout their Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference First Round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Game 2 will take place at Consol Energy Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Pittsburgh made several line adjustments during its 4-3 win in Game 1 Wednesday, primarily to the wings on three of its lines. The Penguins swapped forwards Tanner Glass, who began the game as the third-line left wing, and Brian Gibbons under certain circumstances.

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.16.2014 / 1:15 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Malkin, Vitale likely to play Game 1 for Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- All indications point toward the Pittsburgh Penguins having their healthiest lineup in several months entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Forwards Evgeni Malkin (foot) and Joe Vitale (mid body) skated for the second consecutive day Wednesday morning. Neither has been officially announced as part of Pittsburgh's lineup for Game 1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round on Wednesday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC), but their returns are likely.

Malkin worked in his normal spot as the second-line center, while Vitale centered the fourth line between forwards Brian Gibbons and Craig Adams.

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 3:32 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Dubinsky, Murray return to Blue Jackets practice

COLUMBUS -- There were two numbers of interest among the media attending Columbus Blue Jackets practice Tuesday: 17 and 27.

Those numerals belonged to center Brandon Dubinsky and rookie defenseman Ryan Murray, respectively. They happened to be the two uninjured players who were given maintenance days Monday by coach Todd Richards while the rest of the Blue Jackets prepared to open their Eastern Conference First Round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, NBCSN).

There was speculation Murray might be ailing a bit after he sat out the regular-season finale Saturday at the Florida Panthers because he only recently returned from missing a month following arthroscopic knee surgery. Dubinsky had a gimpy knee from a collision in the Florida game.

But Murray and Dubinsky joined their teammates in a vigorous workout Tuesday in the practice facility adjacent to Nationwide Arena. A few aches and pains won't keep them out of the lineup.

"I had some opportunity to take some time off the ice, so I took advantage of it," Murray said. "At this point of the season you've got to get ready no matter what. I feel good. I'm ready to go."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 1:59 PM

By Wes Crosby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins pave way for returns with demotions to AHL

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins reassigned three players to the American Hockey League Tuesday to seemingly make room for players returning from injury.

Defenseman Simon Despres and forwards Chuck Kobasew and Harry Zolnierczyk were reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League prior to Game 1 of Pittsburgh’s first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, FS-O, ROOT).

The departures would allow for the return of forwards Evgeni Malkin and Joe Vitale.

“Obviously, it’s been a long year with a lot of different guys,” Vitale said. “But it’s a good feeling, obviously to see [Malkin] out there and [defenseman Paul Martin] and just see those faces and Kris [Letang]. Just to see those faces and the energy they bring, the energy on the ice is kind of contagious throughout the whole locker room, so it’s something special and we’re obviously thankful to have those guys back.”

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Posted On Monday, 04.14.2014 / 3:13 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Murray skips Blue Jackets practice, will play Game 1

Columbus Blue Jackets rookie defenseman Ryan Murray was held out of practice Monday for a maintenance day but coach Todd Richards said Murray, recovered from a knee injury, will play in Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Initially expected to miss the remainder of the regular season after having arthroscopic knee surgery in March, Murray returned April 4 and played in five games. He sat out the season finale Saturday against the Florida Panthers as a precaution. The No. 2 pick of the 2012 NHL Draft was hurt during Columbus' 2-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 3 and had surgery four days later.

Murray, 20, had four goals, 17 assists and a plus-4 rating in 66 regular-season games. He has one goal and a plus-2 rating in five games since returning.

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Quote of the Day

Not only is it a great idea, but if you don't [start using analytics] you're going to fall behind. You have to be on the cutting edge. It was [Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager] Darcy Regier who said, 'If you didn't invent it, you have to be the second- or third-best copier, because if you're fourth or fifth you've got no chance.'

— Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on his interest in advanced statistical analysis