Maybe, just maybe, things are starting to turn around in Columbus.
Yesterday, the Blue Jackets returned Artem Anisimov (torn triceps) from a 23-game absence and today, the team announced defenseman Ryan Murray was activated off IR after missing the last 36 contests.
Murray, 21, has been plagued all year by knee problems, having missed the first seven games of the year following offseason surgery. The former No. 2 overall pick — taken behind Nail Yakupov at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft — also missed time last year with a knee problem.
Getting Murray back is a huge boost for the Jackets. Despite his injury issues, he still managed to score 21 points in 66 games last season and average nearly 20 minutes a night. Columbus also leaned on him heavily during last year’s opening-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh, during which he played 22:44 a night.
Artem Anisimov will try to turn around a nightmarish season on Thursday when the Jackets take on the Panthers at Nationwide.
Anisimov, who’s missed the last 23 games with a torn triceps, will draw back into the lineup for the first time since Nov. 29 and play just his 17th game of the year.
As mentioned, the Russian forward’s had a really tough campaign injury-wise. He missed seven games earlier in the year with a concussion, got healthy, played in seven contests, then suffered the torn triceps.
That string of poor health is indicative of what Columbus has dealt with all season long. No team has lost more man games due to injury and, heading into tonight’s tilt with Florida, the Jackets are missing Jeremy Morin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Boone Jenner, Brian Gibbons, Ryan Muray and Nathan Horton to various ailments.
PHT’s favorite meme is back in the rotation today as Columbus announced that forward Jeremy Morin will be sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body ailment.
With that, the Jackets now have Morin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Boone Jenner, Brian Gibbons, Artem Anisimov, Ryan Murray and Nathan Horton on the shelf with injuries.
Morin was hurt during Tuesday’s 4-3 win over Washington, exiting the game after just 7:11 of ice time. This could be related to an upper-body injury he suffered in Columbus’ last game prior to the All-Star break — Morin played just 4:38 in a loss to the Jets — but the club has yet to confirm injury specifics.
Regardless, losing Morin will hurt. While he hasn’t scored much (just three points in 17 games), he was the recipient of some pretty decent playing time — in a 3-1 win over Boston two weeks ago, Morin played 16:05 and finished with three shots on goal.
Oh, and just in case you’re wondering: Columbus was leading the league for man games lost to injury this season, per the latest (Jan. 20) report from website Man Games Lost.
The Columbus Blue Jackets’ season has been defined by injuries, so it seems grimly fitting that Sergei Bobrovsky suffered a lower-body injury on Wednesday that will likely keep him out of the All-Star Game. On top of that, the Blue Jackets also lost forward Jeremy Morin to an upper-body injury during Wednesday’s contest.
As bad as the situation is though, the Blue Jackets have also gotten some positive news on the injury front recently. Ryan Murray (knee) and center Artem Anisimov (torn triceps) might both be back next week, per the Columbus Dispatch.
Murray’s return will hopefully turn the page on what has been a difficult start to his NHL career. The 21-year-old defenseman was taken with the second overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, but he wasn’t able to join Columbus following the 2012-13 lockout because he suffered a torn labrum in November 2012 while playing for the WHL Everett Silvertips. He instead made his debut last season and was limited to 66 contests. That was still a productive campaign compared to 2014-15 as he’s only played in four games and none since Nov. 1.
Anisimov has been absent for roughly two months due to his injury. The 26-year-old forward has two goals and six points in 16 contests.
With 45 games in the books, only Ryan Johansen and David Savard have managed to play in every contest with Columbus.
Winners of five straight, things were looking up for the Columbus Blue Jackets… which means something had to go wrong.
On Friday, it did.
The Jackets placed forward Scott Hartnell on injured reserve with a broken finger, suffered during Thursday’s 3-2 win over Washington. He’s expected to miss two weeks with the ailment.
Prior to getting hurt, Hartnell had six goals and 17 points in 28 games this year, averaging just under 18 minutes a night. The veteran winger had also been a catalyst during the club’s recent winning streak, with three points in the five wins.
The injury is also a step back for Columbus’ overall health. Despite returning a few bodies to the lineup — including alternate captain Brandon Dubinsky — the club is now facing a stretch in which it’ll be without Hartnell, Ryan Murray, Mark Letestu, Artem Anisimov and Fedor Tyutin. The team is also still without Nathan Horton, who has yet to play this season while dealing with a severe back injury.
In a move related to the Hartnell injury, Columbus recalled Kerby Rychel from AHL Springfield on Friday.