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.