After being sidelined for five games with a strained back, Derek MacKenzie has been activated off the injured reserve list by the Columbus Blue Jackets ahead of Friday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.
MacKenzie is a veteran bottom-six center that plays a physical game and excels on the draw. With that in mind, the timing of his return is particularly good as the Wild’s 52.5% faceoff success rate ranks sixth in the league.
Beyond that, there’s the simple fact that the Blue Jackets need all the help they can get right now. Reigning Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to miss the 4-5 weeks with a groin injury. He hadn’t lived up to expectations this season, but neither has Columbus and until he went down, he was the team’s best hope to turn its season around.
Now they’ll have to at least stay competitive with 30-year-old journeyman Curtis McElhinney between the pipes. At least with MacKenzie back, McElhinney’s job will be a little bit easier.