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Game Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Columbus Blue Jackets 4/13/2023 - How to watch

The Pens play out the stretch in Columbus

NHL: OCT 22 Penguins at Blue Jackets Photo by Bella Sagarese/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (40-31-10, 90 points, 5th place Metropolitan Division) @ Columbus Blue Jackets (24-47-9, 57 points, 8th place Metropolitan Division)

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet PIT, Bally Sports Ohio, ESPN+

Opponent Track: They’ve lost four straight.

Pens Path Ahead: For the first time since April 18, 2006 - there is no path ahead for Pittsburgh, who play their first meaningless game in such a long, long time. The Penguins’ season will end today, without going to the playoffs for the first time since the Crosby/Malkin/Letang troika united.

For a little something different on a different kind of preview. here’s a song that encapsulates the moment. If today isn’t the day for a sad cowboy song, folks, I don’t know what to tell ya.

So take it in and commiserate with my favorite singer who plays both types of music (that being country AND western), Mr. Corb Lund to set the stage.

The rodeo’s over
The folks have gone home
And the cowboys are all down the road

Well boys, it was a good one
We kicked a hole in the sky
And even them rank ones got rode

It was as wild as they come
And it was all mighty western
And none of us thought it would end
We finished a dip with a bang and a whisper
And now I must leave you my friend

We may do it again in some future season, but it won’t be the same
‘Cause our draws they’ll be different and our injuries will have healed, and it’s likely the weather will change

So take from the lessons
And be glad for the memories
Of the days that we rode in the sun
‘Cause after today
There ain’t no man can claim
That we didn’t have us a good run

So burn all the blankets
And dry all the tears
‘Cause we can always
Go further out west

And I’ll meet you out there
In the vastness some where
I swear it
But first
I must rest

The rodeo’s over
The folks have gone home
And the cowboys are all down the road

Thank you for indulging me! It’s been a great run for the Penguins, but all good things must come to an end, and so too will the longest active post-season run in American sports.

It will surely be an off-season filled with changes from top to bottom, and we’ll have you covered every step of the way. Thanks for being along for the ride. It didn’t go as anyone planned or would have expected, but that is how it goes sometimes.

At this point, some shoutouts:

  • To Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin - for both playing in all 82 games, being above a point per game and leading the way. One can point a lot of fingers at this team, but not very reasonably at them.
  • Rickard Rakell is playing in 82 as well today, with a strong first full season in Pittsburgh and many a memorable goal along the way.
  • Brian Dumoulin also potentially ends his Penguin career playing all 82 this year. Wasn’t the outcome anyone would have hoped for, but it’s been a glorious ride for more or less a thrown in to a trade a decade ago that ended up being a key piece and franchise staple for a long time.
  • To Jason Zucker, for a strong 27-goal season and breathing some life into a career that was getting derailed through no part of his own. If energy and enthusiasm could have bought a few more wins, Zucker would still be playing next week for the Pens.
  • For Kris Letang, who had ups and downs on the ice this year, and mostly just downs off the ice by suffering a stroke and then returning to practice 10 days later. It goes unrecognized and overlooked by too many about how special he is.
  • It might not feel like it, but Jake Guentzel had one of the stronger seasons in his career with a team-high 35 goals and adding on 72 points and being the best winger that Crosby’s ever had (yeah, I said it).
  • To Nick Bonino, whose second stint as a Penguin only lasted three games and almost as many days in the hospital after suffering a lacerated kidney.

All this and more for a team that came up short, but nevertheless had to pay the price to try. This preview is more or less also a eulogy for the season, and a cathartic one at that. Cheers to everyone, and even in this very unreal and new territory to play a game without anything on the line, it’s been a pleasure to bring it to you.