Scott Harrington and Adam McQuaid have been criminally bad for the Blue Jackets in recent games, and should be split up from their porous third pairing.
With Ryan Murray out indefinitely, John Tortorella and his staff are left with limited options. Tortorella tried Harrington on the top pair with Seth Jones, but the results were disastrous. After that, the decision was made to re-unite Zach Werenski and Jones. That left David Savard, Markus Nutivaara, and the aforementioned McQuaid and Harrington as their remaining defensemen, with Dean Kukan on the outside looking in.
In the 3-0 loss to the Penguins, Tortorella surely realized that the McQuaid-Harington tandem was not working, as the two played just 10:03 and 14:13, respectively, and Harrington played 2:31 of penalty-kill time within that 14:13. That's not a lot of ice for a defenseman, but it was the right call.
Looking at the Corsi For % hurts the eyes. In four games paired together this season, McQuaid and Harringon are a 38.64 5v5 CF% (shot attempts), 27.27% SCF% (scoring chances for %), and 20% HDCF% (high-danger chances for %) and have been on the ice for two goals against and zero for the Blue Jackets.
As of now, there has been no inkling that there will be a call-up from Cleveland, but it's probably worth looking into. Is Gabriel Carlsson a downgrade from McQuaid? Adam Clendening may not be the strongest defensive defensemen, but he's a quality puck-mover, something that the Blue Jackets miss dearly with Murray out of the lineup. Should Dean Kukan move into the lineup? Probably. Even in a limited capacity, he brings more to the table than Harrington.
These are stressful times for the Blue Jackets. They will rely heavily on minute-eaters like Jones, Werenski, and Savard. For a team that's struggling, rolling out just two defensive pairs while hoping and praying for a break-even from the third is a recipe for disaster. If Murray is out long-term, it's unsustainable.
But options do exist... Just not the status quo.
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