Even when healthy, the Columbus Blue Jackets rank as underdogs to many, so they face tough odds in their current situation.
The team’s defense is in particular trouble after James Wisniewski* suffered a possible concussion on Saturday, according to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch. This compounds earlier problems as Nikita Nikitin and Adrian Aucoin were already sidelined with lower-body injuries.
(Columbus announced on Sunday that Nikitin, 26, has been placed on the injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 29.)
GM Scott Howson has already had to insert younger blueliners such as David Savard, 22, and Tim Erixon, 21, into the lineup and now he’s calling upon Nick Holden, 25.
It might not be a short-term patchwork situation, either; Howson told Portzline that injuries might extend beyond their next game on Tuesday versus the Los Angeles Kings.
The greatest burden could fall upon 26-year-old defenseman Jack Johnson, who played just a second under 35 minutes (!) in Saturday’s 4-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings.
Offensively, Portzline reports that 23-year-old forwards Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson resumed skating, although Atkinson is still likely a week away.
* – Portzline reports that the team will evaluate Wisniewski, 28, further on Monday.
This hasn’t been the best night for St. Louis sports fans.
Obviously, the MLB’s Cardinals getting bounced from the playoffs is a bigger deal, but the Blues face bad news, too.
While they’re currently leading the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-3, they’ll need to hang on without Kevin Shattenkirk, whose night is over thanks to a lower-body injury.
There’s no word yet on how severe the issue might be.
Naturally, the Blues must hope that it’s minor, as Shattenkirk is one of the NHL’s truly underrated assets on the blueline.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.