One look at the schedule might give one an indication that tonight’s game between the Blue Jackets and Penguins is more than just a normal game.
There’s the animosity and history between the teams, the 2014 playoff series, the often-boisterous contingent of Penguins fans that make the trek to Nationwide Arena, and just the general sense of anticipation that comes from playing one of your rivals.
While that may be the case inside the Blue Jackets and Penguins dressing rooms, John Tortorella wasn’t letting it on this morning.
“I know you guys (the media) want to turn it into this guy versus that guy, but we’re preparing for this game as we always prepare,” Tortorella said. “I like the way our guys have handled themselves through a time when we’re looking up at a lot of teams. We’re going about it the same way here.
“We go about our business the way we’re supposed to go about it and try to beat every team we play, and that’s what we’re trying to do tonight.”
Another item adding to the excitement of this particular game is the return of Sergei Bobrovsky, who has not played since re-injuring his groin on Jan. 21. Bobrovsky smiled yesterday when asked if returning against Pittsburgh made it extra special, but regardless, his first start in nearly two months is something his entire team is looking forward to.
“He’s so well-respected in the room,” Tortorella said. “The goaltending position is kind of a tough position (because) he’s not on the bench with you during the game, but how much respect he gets in the room and well he’s liked by our guys, they’re glad he’s back. They seem him every day pushing, they know he’s been frustrated…to have him part of the group, it’s good for our team.
“Guys like playing for him. He’s an easy guy to play for. The resurgence of our team the last couple of months has been from our goaltender; Korpi’s an easy guy to play for, too, because he’s such a good kid. Everybody sees his mental toughness so they played off of him. This is Bob’s first whack at it after a little bit of time off, and our guys will play hard in front of him.”