It's only a matter of time.
Whether it happens early or later, an injury (or injuries) to players in key positions is inevitable. The Blue Jackets already lost All-Star defenseman Seth Jones to a knee injury in the preseason, and now, they're without veteran center Brandon Dubinsky.
Dubinsky had started the year well, recording a point in each of the team's first two games. He scored the Blue Jackets' only goal in a 3-1 home opener loss to Carolina, and in Sunday's practice at Nationwide Arena, left with an oblique injury. He's out 4-to-6 weeks, as you know by now.
One player who will be called upon to play a larger role in his absence? Riley Nash.
Nash skated on a line between Boone Jenner and Josh Anderson in Monday's practice – also known as Dubinsky's spot – and will start Tuesday's game there.
The Blue Jackets need more than one line going and producing offense, and while the Jenner-Dubinsky-Anderson line was their best last weekend, it's got a different look now. And Nash knows it's not going to click overnight, or by simply showing up.
"It's spending time together on the ice, getting to know their game, where they like to put pucks," he said after practice Monday. "It's little things like that where you really can't just say 'get on the same page,' you've got be out there doing it."
And consider, too, that Tuesday will only be Nash's third in a Blue Jackets uniform. Practices and training camp are helpful in getting a new player acclimated to systems and structure of the new team, but game action is where you have to get comfortable. Nash has been through a similar situation when Patrice Bergeron was injured and he was elevated in Boston's lineup, but he knows it's going to take time to get up to speed in a new place.
"I think that takes a little bit of time, but I'm getting a feel of the style of play Torts wants...the little nuances of the game that become second nature," Nash said. "I'm definitely starting to get on the same page in certain areas."
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