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Pensburgh’s Staff predictions for Penguins-Blue Jackets

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It’s that time of year. Playoff season breeds predictions, and we at Pensburgh have our own to make for the Penguins-Jackets series

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, Columbus. Nice to see you again. Actually, no, it’s not. All season long this felt inevitable, to a point, and here we are — ready to square off with your bullshit team, bullshit coach, and bullshit cannon. Now that I’ve gotten my daily mini-rage out of the way, let’s go one-by-one with all of our own and see what we’re all thinking about how this series is gonna go.


Pittsburgh takes care of Columbus. They have too much team speed up front and Columbus is a mainly inexperienced playoff team that will be a little over their heads. It helps that the Penguins usually have the number of Sergei Bobrovsky and don't have many problems scoring on him in most cases. That will have to be the case this time, a hot Bobrovsky gives CBJ a chance but Pittsburgh's skill of Crosby, Malkin, Guentzel, Sheary, Kessel and Schultz should hopefully be too much to handle and Columbus doesn't have quite the horses to keep up.

Penguins in 6.


Another season, another year of the Blue Jackets not winning a playoff series. I’ve got the Penguins, of course. The Blue Jackets put together a hell of a season, but let’s not kid ourselves here. They had a 16-game win streak and still managed to finish below the injury-riddled Penguins. Most good teams who have a 16-game win streak coast their way to a division win. In this case, the Capitals are also stupid good but you get my point. They’re limping into the playoffs having lost six out of their last seven games. Zach Werenski’s health status is up in the air, and if he plays, he’s banged up. The Blue Jackets might put together a good game or two and give the Penguins a hard time, but the Pens will dig back and pull out the win.

Penguins in 6.


"Columbus is one of those teams that drives the Penguins crazy," said Mike Rupp in an interview before the Stadium Series game. "They would rather see the Capitals or anyone else in the playoffs."

With a short off-season and through all the injuries the Pens still managed to amass 111 points this season, good enough for the second best points total in the league. That alone is incredible. Now they'll try to defend their title a little healthier but minus Kris Letang. It will not be easy but I think they take the first step against the Blue Jackets. Columbus will try to throw the Pens off their game with the after the whistle nonsense but the Pens proved last year they have learned from their sins of the past.

The x-factor will be Justin Schultz. I was going to say the entire D corps but in reality it all starts and ends with #4. With Letang out, the bulk of the workload will be placed on Schultz's back. He's proven himself this year (51 points) and I believe he's ready to make an impact on the big stage. The Pens have an advantage up front while the Jackets have an edge in goal. Schultz could swing the balance of power in the series towards Pittsburgh if his strong season carries over to the playoffs.

Penguins in 6.


The speed between Sid and The Kids will prove to be too fast for Columbus' style. Malkin will also be looking to make a mark after getting fresh legs. The D will be greatly tested without Letang, but the Pens will squeak by in the 1st round.

Penguins in 6.


The key to deciding this series: It’s going to be an all out war, we know this, but keeping cool heads will decide this series.

Penguins in 6.


It’s no surprise that the Blue Jackets, after charging through the regular season and putting together a 16-game win streak, are here in the playoffs as the third team coming out of the Metro. However, I think the Penguins are going to have zero trouble beating them in the first round. Columbus is really aggressive, but what it boasts in defensive pressure, it sort of lacks in offense. Sure, they have goal-scorers in Cam Atkinson and Brandon Dubinsky, as well as Scott Hartnell, who can be dangerous when he gets hot (see: hat trick in the 7-1 rout of the Pens earlier in the season), but recently it’s been too little too late. Pittsburgh is untouchable when it comes to talent, and its roster has enough depth for two pretty competitive teams. When you compare both of their line pairings side-by-side, the Penguins easily have the edge across the board. The only thing to really watch out for is the return of Zach Werenski.

Columbus will lose the first two in Pittsburgh, they’ll split in Columbus, and then ultimately split the last two games as well, with the Pens winning the series back in Ohio.

Penguins in 6.


The main key to this is what kind of series will be played. Will Pittsburgh impose its style of play (speed, skill), or will Columbus be allowed to dominate physically? Side key to this is how the series will be officiated...strictly, opening up the skill game, or leniently, allowing Columbus to take liberties? If it plays out the way hockey is supposed to be played, I’ll take the Penguins.

Penguins in 6.


CBJ is reeling heading into the post season, but they still should not be taken lightly. Any Pens D-man can be listed as an “X-factor” in this series, as at least one will need to really step up in the absence of Kris Letang, but I think the key to the series will be health—for both the short and long term. Each member of a deep group of CBJ forwards plays a hard-checking game, and to win this series the Pens will need to first get healthy—at least as much as possible—and stay that way. Even without Kris Letang in the lineup, a healthy and rejuvenated Evgeni Malkin can go a long ways in hopes of a Cup repeat. I don’t think Letang’s absence will be felt in this one as much as in a potential second round rematch with the Washington Capitals, and the Pens ability to score in bunches and win games on home ice ultimately puts Columbus away in a longer-than-expected first round tilt.

Penguins in 7.


We’re all in agreement with the Penguins beating Columbus. This is good, because if anyone under our umbrella here would have picked the Blue Jackets, their writing here would have ended (Half kidding.)

I do think we’re in for a hell of a series though.

Drop the damn puck.