Blue Jackets at Penguins Gamethread

Justin K. Aller

The Penguins face the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first time as division and conference opponents Friday in Pittsburgh.

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Murderer's Row it ain't.

The Pittsburgh Penguins (9-4-0, 18 points) lead a weak Metropolitan Division by an early mile and enter Friday's action hot off two-straight wins, including Wednesday's hard-won 3-2 decision over the Boston Bruins.

Columbus (5-6-0, 10 points) trails the Penguins by eight points and is right in the thick of a standings logjam, in which Metropolitan teams 2-7 are separated by just one point.

With a win, Columbus could jump from fourth place to second in the division.

With a lopsided win, the Penguins can become the only team in the group with a positive goal differential.

These two teams have limited history, as the Columbus franchise had played exclusively in the Western Conference until this season. Separated by less than 200 miles, these clubs have the proximity to become real rivals.

Of course, it takes good hockey to have a good rivalry. Columbus surprised hockey by pushing for a playoff spot late last season, but are off to a middling start this year.

The first date of a home-and-home with their would-be rivals might be a good place to get their season on the winning track.

Otherwise, the Penguins can pad their already considerable lead in a considerably awful division.

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