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Preseason Game 2: Columbus Blue Jackets @ Pittsburgh Penguins

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It’s the home (preseason) opener for the Pens. Find out the rosters for both teams, how to watch and what to watch for

Columbus Blue Jackets v Pittsburgh Penguins

Who: Columbus Blue Jackets @ Pittsburgh Penguins

When: Today at 7:00pm

How to watch: Locally on AT&T Sportsnet

Roster

The Pens have announced the following roster for this game, and it’s got a lot more NHL familiar faces this time around.

Forwards: Kasper Bjorkqvist, Nick Bjugstad, Alex Galchenyuk, Jake Guentzel, Patric Hornqvist, Dominik Kahun, Sam Lafferty, Nathan Legare, Evgeni Malkin, Samuel Poulin, Dominik Simon, Brandon Tanev

Defensemen: Erik Gudbranson, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, John Marino, Marcus Pettersson, Justin Schultz, David Warsofsky

Goalies: Matt Murray, Alex D’Orio

Definitely a lot more firepower for the Pens in this game than their first one, and shouldn’t be outshot 47-18 tonight. It’s always interesting to see who gets repeat games too. Sam Lafferty is back in the lineup (after scoring against Buffalo on Monday night), as are youngsters Nathan Legare and Samuel Poulin that the team obviously wants to see as much of as possible while the two unsigned wingers remain with the team.

Defensively Marino (who impressed again) and Joseph are back for another look, with a more NHL-based blueline too.

Up front, it’s not that notable but interesting to see the two wingers Sidney Crosby has worked with so far this camp (Guentzel and Kahun) playing, but no Sid himself for this one. Likely nothing to read into that, but it’s always odd in the rare moment to see #59 without #87 on the ice.

Given that there aren’t many natural centers in the lineup (just Malkin and Bjugstad) this could be an important game for the Dom Simon as center experiment that the Pens are trying out early in camp. He probably figures to get a chance to work with some very skilled wingers, so we’ll see what he can or can’t do with the opportunity.

The opponent

SBN Blog: Jackets Cannon

The Blue Jackets’ expected roster for tonight is:

Forwards: Alex Wennberg, Kevin Stenlund, Gustav Nyquist, Jakub Linja, Brandon Dubinsky, Sonny Milano, Zac Dalpe, Markus Hannikainen, Ryan MacInnis, Eric Robertson, Emil Bemstrom, Marko Dano

Defensemen: Scott Harrington, Vladislav Gavrikov, Gabriel Carlsson, David Savard, Ryan Collins, Anton Karlsson

Goalteners: Veini Vehvilainen, Elvis Merzlikins

Not a bad group talent-wise here. Nyquist is the franchise’s big free agent signing, though obviously won’t measure up to the forwards that went out the door on July 1 (Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel).

25-year old goalie Elvis Merzlikins is one of the more intriguing additions and stories to watch unfold in the division this season too. The Latvian is a former third round pick in 2014 by CBJ and has been playing in the Swiss league up to this point, and been very steady and one of the best goalies outside of the NHL for a while.

Columbus is betting on him, sight unseen against North American competition, to be a part of their NHL tandem this season. Will it be a great move and ease the OTHER big free agent loss of Sergei Bobrovsky? Or fail spectacularly and leave them in the lurch? Or somewhere in the middle? Find out starting in a few weeks, but also tonight as Merzlikins is expected to start off the game for the Jackets.