Blue Jackets' Depth Being Tested In Wake Of Injuries

By Rob Mixer on March 12, 2017 at 9:30 pm
John Tortorella
Aaron Doster - USA TODAY Sports

It was bound to happen eventually.

The Blue Jackets have been surprisingly healthy for most of the regular season.

After all, this is a club that knows a thing or two about getting hammered by injuries. Remember 2014-15 and the 500 man games lost? Okay, great, now let's go back to forgetting about it.

Every team encounters a run of injuries at some point in its season and now is that time for the Blue Jackets, who most recently lost defenseman Ryan Murray to a broken hand and he's out indefinitely. As luck would have it, Murray was making his return after missing two games with a lower body injury - he blocked a shot early in the first period and did not return to the game.

Cam Atkinson was far more fortunate on Saturday night; he was cut by the skate of Marcus Foligno and needed stitches, but he was able to return to the game and John Tortorella deemed him "fine." Crisis averted there.

Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak (both oblique injuries) remain out of the lineup, though both have reportedly starting skating on their own and Calvert was a limited participant in practice last week. Their returns would be welcomed, as the Blue Jackets don't have much flexibility up front at the moment. They're carrying 12 healthy forwards, thus T.J. Tynan can remain with the team on emergency recall until another player is ready to return.

Jarmo Kekalainen has gone to the Cleveland well more often than he'd like, but so far, the Monsters call-ups have acquitted themselves well. Tynan is the latest to join the club on emergency recall and has seen time with Lauri Korpikoski and William Karlsson. Karlsson is currently missing two of his regular line mates with both Calvert and Josh Anderson (knee) out of the lineup.

Anderson was expected to miss about a week, Tortorella said, which should have him on track to return this week if all goes well in his recovery.

On defense, Murray's uncertain status means Markus Nutivaara will, in all likelihood, become a lineup mainstay. Trade deadline acquisition Kyle Quincey is a safe bet to see more regular ice time, with Scott Harrington waiting in the wings if need be. Tortorella was effusive in his praise of Nutivaara last week, saying his ability to move the puck out of the defensive zone makes him a key part of the team concept and how they want to play.

There's never an ideal time for injuries, but now isn't the worst time. The Blue Jackets are closing in on clinching a playoff spot and have a busy schedule ahead of them, but they've assembled organization depth for this very reason. And it's about to be tested.

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