Columbus Blue Jackets Return To Practice, Move Closer To Possible Game Action On Thursday Vs Predators

By Will Chase on December 28, 2021 at 1:45 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets' Justin Danforth celebrates his third period goal against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place.
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Looks like we're getting closer to NHL action once again!

After an extended holiday pause, the NHL looks to be returning to the ice with three games scheduled for Tuesday night.

The Columbus Blue Jackets were slated to play tonight at the Chicago Blackhawks but that game was scrapped for COVID-related reasons on Sunday.

However, it looks like the Blue Jackets are gearing up for their return to game action Thursday at Nationwide Arena against the Nashville Predators.

On Sunday the Blue Jackets returned to practice for the first team activity since their game on Dec. 16 in Edmonton and also practiced Monday and today as they shake the rust.

Columbus has had five games postponed due to COVID protocols since that defeat to the Oilers nearly two weeks ago, and while the postponements provided necessary COVID precautions, the time off also provided a struggling short-handed team time to reset.

As we covered yesterday, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to temporary changes for the CBA, which leads to the return of the taxi squad.

As such, the Blue Jackets recalled Josh Dunne and Tyler Sikura from the Cleveland Monsters. The good news is while seven players have been placed in the NHL protocols, Gabriel Carlsson, Andrew Peeke, and Jack Roslovic have cleared protocols and resumed practice.

Boone Jenner, Joonas Korpisalo, and Eric Robinson are eligible to return Thursday, but as of right now, that's still to be determined. Then there's Patrik Laine who has missed nearly two months with an oblique injury and mourning the passing of his father. If he can return soon, it comes at a critical time for the Blue Jackets, as Oliver Bjorkstrand entered protocols on Monday.

As for the possible reinforcements in Dunne and Sikura, neither has played for Columbus this season. Dunne played in six games last year at the NHL level for the Blue Jackets and has eight points (four goals, four assists) in 24 games this season for the Monsters.

Sikura, meanwhile, is 29 years old and has never played at the NHL level. He has been among the Monsters' alternate captains and has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 24 games.

Just as the entire league has had to navigate COVID protocols and postponed games as a result, as well as uncertainty with rosters, the Blue Jackets might be in a more favorable situation, all things considered, with the possible return of several players.

Roslovic is among those players that might be a go for a game on Thursday. 

But the team isn't completely out of the woods.

Jake Voracek isn't in COVID protocol but he is being re-assessed from a physical standpoint, so we will have to await further word on his situation.

But his return for today's practice indicates good news.

What does all of this roster restructuring mean for possible lines?

Everything is a fluid situation so we'll have to wait and see.

Daniil Tarasov was added to the roster on emergency recall from the Monsters on Dec. 26, so the Blue Jackets look like they'll be able to move forward with Tarasov and Elvis Merzlikins, as of right now, in case Korpisalo doesn't return Thursday. 

If Jenner and Robinson are able to play in Thursday's scheduled game, the Blue Jackets figure to be as close to full strength as they can, pending any other COVID-related scenarios between now and then, and whatever the ailment that's bothering Voracek.

The Blue Jackets currently occupy fifth place in the Metropolitan Division with 29 points.