Talk about a shot in the arm.
The Blue Jackets are humming along at 5-2-0 and, by and large, have played consistently well in the early part of the season. Despite that, they've not been as deep or balanced up front as they were a year ago, partly due to the absence of Boone Jenner.
Jenner, who missed the club's entire training camp with a reported back injury, was activated off injured reserve on Friday afternoon and could make his season debut as soon as Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings. Head coach John Tortorella made no promises about Jenner's availability for Saturday, but according to Tom Reed of The Athletic, Jenner took line rushes in practice with Nick Foligno and Oliver Bjorkstrand during the team's Friday practice at Nationwide Arena.
Adding Jenner into the lineup, whether it's Saturday or Wednesday (both home games) figures to give the Blue Jackets a boost. Jenner is one of their emotional leaders and a guy that Tortorella says can drag his teammates into games — something they missed in a game like Thursday, when the Lightning controlled the game in the first period.
"He's a complete player," Tortorella said of Jenner. "He's the full package."
Jenner scored a career-high 30 goals in 2015-16 but started slow last year, saving most of his offense for the second half. He finished with 18 goals and shot at a reasonable 8.5 percent, so it's not a stretch to think Jenner could be a 20-goal player (or a similar pace) again this year. He's a key part of their identity.
His status for tonight's game is still up in the air, but he said he felt close to 100 percent health following Friday's skate.
"It's tough watching," Jenner said. "At any time, it's not a good time to be out, but especially at the start of the season, it sucks."