Eric Gelinas, R.J. Umberger

Blue Jackets make struggling Umberger a healthy scratch

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With three losses in their last four games, the Columbus Blue Jackets need to turn things around. They decided to shake up their lineup a bit on Saturday, with R.J. Umberger’s healthy scratch serving as the most noteworthy of the two swaps.

Overall, it’s Corey Tropp in for Umberger in the forwards group and Nikita Nikitin in for Nick Schultz on defense, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline. They face the fledgling Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

Out of context, seeing Umberger might be a touch surprising, but his recent numbers argue that it’s more than reasonable. The 31-year-old hasn’t collected a point in five straight games and only has one (a goal on March 13) in his last nine contests. He only has five points in 17 games since February began after collecting at least six points in every previous month this season.

The Blue Jackets only scored two goals combined in these past three losses (but did manage a 4-2 win against Detroit on Tuesday), so head coach Todd Richards must hope that the team’s offense wakes up. Maybe scratching a veteran forward like Umberger will send the right message, then.

Curtis McElhinney gets the start in net for Columbus tonight, by the way.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.