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At the Rink blog

Blue Jackets' McElhinney to start against Penguins

Friday, 03.28.2014 / 1:10 PM

By Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

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2013-2014 At the Rink Blog
Blue Jackets' McElhinney to start against Penguins

COLUMBUS -- A streak of 19 straight starts for Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will end Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Nationwide Arena.

Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, is feeling the lingering effects of the flu that forced him out of the game Tuesday after one period against the Detroit Red Wings.

Curtis McElhinney relieved Bobrovsky, who allowed one goal on 10 shots against Detroit. McElhinney stopped 22 of 23 Red Wings shots in the 4-2 win and will start against the Penguins. Mike McKenna, recalled from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League, will be the backup.

Bobrovsky did not practice Thursday or participate in the optional skate Friday morning but he did get on the ice to work with goalie coach Ian Clark about 15 minutes after most players left.

"I feel a little bit better," Bobrovsky said. "I feel weakness. My throat's sore. I have low energy. We decided between the doctors and coaches not to play this game."

Bobrovsky was not feeling well before the Detroit game but convinced coach Todd Richards he could play, only to get sick during the first intermission.

A decision on whether Bobrovsky plays Saturday at the Carolina Hurricanes will be made that day.

Richards said it was an easy choice to turn to McElhinney against the Penguins.

McElhinney is 9-9-1 in 25 games this season with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. He has played four times against Pittsburgh this season with three starts, posting an 0-3-0 record, 2.44 goals-against average and .900 save percentage.

His last start was a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 28.

"Curtis has done an outstanding job for us all season long," left wing Nick Foligno said. "We have full confidence in our goaltending. It comes down to what we do in front of them that matters most."

The Blue Jackets (37-29-6), who have lost all four games against the Penguins (46-22-5) this season, will make no other changes from the Detroit game.

Pittsburgh will start goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury after backup Jeff Zatkoff made 29 saves in a 3-2 loss Thursday to the Los Angeles Kings.

The Penguins held an optional skate Friday with few players participating, but there could be at least one more alteration to the lineup because center Marcel Goc suffered a lower-body injury late in the second period Thursday and did not return.

With Evgeni Malkin (foot) out, the Penguins could be down to two true centers.

Here are the projected lineups for the Penguins and Blue Jackets:

PENGUINS

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Lee Stempniak

Jussi Jokinen - Brandon Sutter - James Neal

Taylor Pyatt - Craig Adams - Brian Gibbons

Tanner Glass - Jayson Megna - Beau Bennett

Olli Maatta - Matt Niskanen

Simon Despres - Rob Scuderi

Brooks Orpik - Robert Bortuzzo

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

Scratched: Deryk Engelland

Injured: Evgeni Malkin (foot), Kris Letang (stroke), Paul Martin (broken hand), Joe Vitale (upper body), Chris Conner (broken foot), Pascal Dupuis (ACL), Tomas Vokoun (pelvis), Marcel Goc (lower body)

BLUE JACKETS

Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Nathan Horton

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

RJ Umberger - Artem Anisimov - Nick Foligno

Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Blake Comeau

Fedor Tyutin - James Wisniewski

Jack Johnson - Dalton Prout

Nick Schultz - David Savard

Curtis McElhinney

Mike McKenna

Scratched: Corey Tropp, Nikita Nikitin, Matt Frattin, Jared Boll

Injured: Ryan Murray (knee), Sergei Bobrovsky (illness)

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