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Morning Skate: Preseason at Pittsburgh

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets



Fans, YOU can now vote for the #CBJ player of the game! It's pretty simple: watch for the tweet from @BlueJacketsNHL during the game & reply to the tweet with #(players' name) to cast your vote! 

The Blue Jackets are starting to pare down their training camp numbers and get a good look at the serious contenders for spots on the opening night roster. Their first regular season game is less than two weeks away, and with 33 players on the official roster as of Friday evening, they have a few more decisions to make before it's time to rock and roll.

An afternoon matinee in Pittsburgh marks Columbus' fifth exhibition game, and with a 3-1-0 record through its first four contests, coach Todd Richards has seen some things he likes, and some things he wants to see improve. He's bringing an experienced roster to CONSOL Energy Center to face the Penguins, who will be without captain Sidney Crosby for the second consecutive time against the Blue Jackets. 

Sergei Bobrovsky starts between the pipes for Columbus, and Marc-Andre Fleury gets the call for Pittsburgh. 

Here are complete rosters for today's 4 p.m. ET start in Pittsburgh...

Forwards: Atkinson, Boll, Chaput, Craig, Dubinsky, Foligno, Gaborik, Jenner, Johansen, Letestu, MacK, Skille, Umberger

Defense: Erixon, Johnson, Melart, Murray, Savard, Tyutin, Weber

Goaltenders: Bobrovsky, Smith


Forwards: Dupuis, Kobasew, Glass, Sutter, Jeffrey, Neal, D'Agostini, Conner, Adams, Jokinen, Sill, Zolnierczyk, Malkin

Defense: Maatta, Scuderi, Martin, Bortuzzo, Orpik, Letang

Goaltenders: Fleury, Zatkoff

Today's game is the second of two preseason meetings between the Blue Jackets and Penguins, and their first tangle was pretty entertaining exhibition game. The two teams exchanged the lead, dropped the gloves, and eventually went to overtime where rookie Ryan Murray gave Columbus a 5-4 win with a nifty goal off the rush.

Less than a week later, the return engagement has some added story lines, albeit slightly more internalized on both sides. The Blue Jackets have competition for roster spots both at forward and on defense, and the final four preseason games will be a major barometer to see who's on the bubble and who cracks the final roster. The same can be said for the Penguins, who have guys pushing for spots and also some veterans who need to get up to speed before the season begins.

One interesting note is the Jenner-Dubinsky-Gaborik line, which is likely to remain intact for today's game. The trio worked very well together on Wednesday night in Raleigh, contributing three of the Blue Jackets' five goals and Dubinsky registering a game-high 10 shots on goal. Can this line continue to gain traction and produce, or will there be another combination for the next preseason game on Monday night? That will be determined by what happens against the Penguins, and that's the Blue Jackets' No. 1 focus this weekend.

Also of interest is Bobrovsky's second start of the preseason. Richards liked what he saw from his No. 1 goaltender on Tuesday night vs. Buffalo and he will get another tune-up (the second of three) against Pittsburgh.


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