Blue Jackets forward Blake Comeau returns from knee injury
It’s been nine games, but chances are it feels like 29 or 39 to Blake Comeau. If you’ve seen the hard-hitting winger play, you understand patience isn’t his long suit. He plays the game at one speed: frenetic. So to have to sit and watch for the past three weeks because of a knee injury has been frustrating. But he says the team’s recent success has helped.
"Being injured anytime is hard; it’s hard being away from the guys, but when they’re performing the way they are it definitely makes things a lot easier," he explained. "And it’s nice to look at the standings and see us right in the playoff mix, so we want to whatever we can to get there and stay there."
Comeau suffered his sprained knee in practice following the team’s shootout win over the New York Rangers back on Jan. 6. True to form, he tried to push things right away, only to be told by the Blue Jackets medical staff to slow down.
"There were a couple of times the first three or four days I was told to ease off a little bit by our medical staff," Comeau admitted. "But I think that’s just the nature of us athletes, that we’re used to pushing our bodies. I was trying to do what I can to test it as much as I could to get back in the lineup as soon as possible."
This has been a rare hiatus for the Saskatchewan native, who has managed to stay in the lineup throughout his NHL career, despite his rock-’em, sock-’em style. (He’s still third on the team in hits, even though he’s been out three weeks.)
"I’ve been actually pretty lucky; I haven’t had any serious injuries," he said. "And considering the physical and aggressive style that I play, I’ve definitely been fortunate. Hopefully being injured doesn’t occur very often. I’m the type of guy that likes to be in the lineup to help my team out and keep playing the physical way that I play."
He returns to a team that has gone 7-2-0 in his absence and will be trying to end a two-game slide against the visiting Ottawa Senators. As hard as it’s been to watch, he’s excited at the progress his team has made.
"I’m happy for the guys. It’s such a great group of guys in here, it’s nice to see after everyone’s hard work that it’s starting to come together," Comeau mentioned. "We’re making steps in the right direction. That being said, we’re a long way from our goal of getting in the playoffs and ultimately making a deep playoff run."
The former second-round pick of the New York Islanders is particularly pleased at the balance the Blue Jackets have and how instrumental that has been in the team’s rise this month.
"All four lines have been contributing," Comeau said. "I think that’s an important thing for any team’s success. You look at teams that have won Stanley Cups, they’ve been consistently playing four lines. When you get in the playoffs, it’s not easy to score, so you’re going to be counting on every guy to step up. We’re the kind of team — we have a lot of talent up front — we can score goals, and we’re also the kind of team that can win 1-0 games, as well, because everyone’s committed to playing good defense.
"I would say on most nights every forward is playing double-digit minutes, from 10-11 minutes to guys playing 18-19, so it’s a really good balance," he continued. "Guys are buying into their roles on the team, everyone’s playing hard, and I think the most important part is that we’re committed to checking and forechecking, and we’re not a team that wants to get into those run and gun games."
Comeau may not love the run-and-gun game, but rest assured he loves being able to run with his teammates on the fourth line again. That sitting and waiting was getting old. And there was no one to hit.