The defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins begin their title defence in honest this week as they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Metro Division rivals get underway from Pittsburgh’s PPG Paint Arena on Wednesday, April 12th at 7:30pm ET with game two falling on Friday, April 14th at 7pm ET. The series then switches to Columbus for games three and four on Sunday, April 16th at 6pm ET and Tuesday, April 18th at 7:30pm ET. Should the series go the distance, and experts are picking exactly that, games five, six and seven are scheduled for Thursday, April 20th, Sunday April 23rd and Tuesday, April 25th.
The Pens and the Blue Jackets split their season series, although Pittsburgh gained the bonus “loser point” with a shootout loss, as opposed to a regulation loss. The Pens went 2-1-1 in the season series, but were actually outshot and outscored across the teams’ four game battle. Chipping in offensively for the Penguins were Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Jake Guentzel with 3 points apiece, while goaltender Matt Murray secured both victories.
The news surrounding the Penguins for the past week has been the absence of star defenceman Kris Letang for this season’s playoffs. The often-injured blue liner will miss the entire post season with a neck injury. It remains to be seen how the Penguins look in the postseason without their rock on defence, but if any team is ready for a playoff battle it’s the battle tested Pittsburgh Penguins.