Stefan Matteau Set To Make Season Debut Tonight vs. Carolina, Zach Werenski Will Miss Out Due To Injury

By Jacob Nitzberg on February 15, 2021 at 12:42 pm
Mar 1, 2020; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (70) is congratulated by center Stefan Matteau (23) after their win against the Vancouver Canucks at Nationwide Arena.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Werenski is the latest Blue Jacket to be bitten by the injury bug.

When the Blue Jackets take on the Hurricanes tonight, Werenski, one of the team's top defensemen, won't be in the lineup. The lower-body injury that held him out for three games last week will prevent him from playing tonight, head coach John Tortorella said Monday.

Dean Kukan will draw in after being a healthy scratch against Chicago on Saturday night.

Werenski, who was activated off injured reserve and played Saturday, didn't show any signs of re-injury during the game. He notched an assist in 22:26 of ice time. Tortorella wouldn't elaborate on Werenski's injury during pregame media availability Monday morning.

Elsewhere, Stefan Matteau will make his season debut for the Blue Jackets as Mikhail Grigorenko will sit. Matteau tallied 2-1-3 in nine games with Columbus last season. He's a hard-working, physical player who fits well in Tortorella's game plan.

"I think I can bring a lot of's what I do, it's part of my identity as a player, to just get in the forecheck and hit," Matteau said. Similar to Andrew Peeke, who has played well since returning to the lineup after a long hiatus, Matteau hasn't played since Mar. 8, 2020 (344 days). The bruising winger can succeed by keeping his game simple and focusing on his best qualities: forechecking and winning physical battles.

Alexandre Texier will be making his return to the center position, with Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner on his wings. The young Frenchman struggled in the middle of the ice at the onset of the season, but Tortorella feels it's time for him to get another chance.

Joonas Korpisalo will be in net for the sixth consecutive game. Elvis Merzlikins has been practicing with the team and activated off IR, but Tortorella is sticking with Korpisalo for tonight.

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