Ryan Murray has had mysterious injuries in the past, but none quite like this.
Tonight, Murray will miss his 22nd consecutive game for the Columbus Blue Jackets due to an "upper body injury", and the answers on his status seem to be going cold.
"As far as (Murray), I have not talked to the trainers," said head coach John Tortorella on Tuesday morning. "I'm not sure where he's at."
Murray's injury appeared to occur in the middle of a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 18, and he has not returned to action since – and has been on injured reserve since that week.
Jackets down a man on the bench. Appears to be Ryan Murray. #CBJ
— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) February 19, 2019
In years past, this wouldn't be an un-manageable hit to the Blue Jackets' depth. Murray was certainly underperforming his draft stock as a No. 2 overall pick, and had only accumulated 72 points in 264 games (through his first five seasons).
— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) February 20, 2019
Which at the time wasn't a huge deal, because the Blue Jackets' defensive corps had some bulk to it – even having the ability to give healthy scratch Jack Johnson during last year's playoffs, who is now a second-pair defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
This current season has been a different story on both accounts. Murray is/was having the best season of his career, and the Blue Jackets simultaneously are dealing with their worst defensive depth they've had in a few years.
Murray has 29 points on the season (already a career high for a single season) and was likely on pace for about 50 or so had he not been injured. He was getting major minutes and playing like a top-pair defenseman in many games, and in fact, was even playing alongside Seth Jones a good amount of the year.
His 29 points are still good to be ranked 10th on the club in points this season (12th if you count the full seasons of Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel), which is still ahead of the likes of David Savard, Alexander Wennberg and Markus Nutivaara who have played nearly full seasons.
So...when's he coming back?
Right now, it doesn't seem like we're going to get a public update on Murray's status, which is getting a little worrisome. With past injuries, there's usually been a timetable, but since the news of this current injury, we haven't seemed to know much at all.
No lineup changes for #CBJ, per Torts. Bobrovsky in net. No updates on Adam McQuaid or Ryan Murray injuries.
— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) April 2, 2019
Since being drafted as the second overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft by the Blue Jackets, Murray has only played in 320 of 489 possible games for Columbus, and during his first five seasons with the team, missed over 35% of the games.
Murray's third year in the league saw him playing in all 82 regular season games, but in the almost three full seasons then, he's had different luck, playing in 60, 44, and now likely 56 games in each respective season.
He's battled ankle, knee, upper-body, lower-body, and even groin injuries over the course of his professional career, so this most recent one wasn't much of surprise. But the fact that nothing has been disclosed as to the severity of this injury, other than the reality that Murray has been out way too long, makes it seem like he may not even be ready for the postseason, should that come.
The Blue Jackets are absolutely rolling right now, winners of the past five games and have outscored opponents 24-4 in the process. But the return of Ryan Murray is near crucial for the Blue Jackets' depth as they look to the postseason. He has been a quarterback of the defense much of this season, and needing to fill his spot in the playoffs with the likes of Scott Harrington or Adam McQuaid wouldn't be...ideal.
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