Columbus, OH â Reinforcements have arrived in the Arch City. With so many players either on Injured Reserve or day-to-day, the Blue Jackets made the call to their AHL-affiliate Springfield Falcons for replacements.
GM Jarmo Kekalainen was in attendance in Albany, NY, Wednesday night as the Falcons visited the Albany Devils (4-2 loss). Centers Brian Gibbons and Sean Collins got the call and flew to Columbus Thursday morning.
Collins, 1-5-6 in 8 games this season with the Falcons, said they got the word they were going to Columbus after the game Wednesday night. He was sporting some stitches below his right eye from a high stick he received in the game against Albany.
"Me and Gibby were in Albany for the game," Collins said. "We stayed there last night and flew out this morning. We didn’t pack anything. We don’t have suits or anything, either. We’ll have to do a little shopping this afternoon."
Both of these players can play at the center position, which gives coach Todd Richards options down the middle. The versatility of the two call-ups, as well as much of the roster, is a good thing to have.
"Nick Foligno has come up to me and said he’s played center before (in Ottawa)," said Richards. "So, there’s always that possibility of using Nick in the middle, too. There are guys that we can use."
Brian Gibbons was injured during training camp and was not able to showcase himself as well as he wanted to after signing a free agent deal with the Blue Jackets last summer. Gibbons is 1-3-4 in 7 games with Springfield and looked a bit tired but had a good practice.
"Any time you get called up, it’s exciting," he said. "It’s an opportunity that you want to take advantage of."
At this point, treading water is mantra of the day. The amount of injuries in such a short amount of time to start the season is staggering. This is a whole new level of adversity for the Blue Jackets.
"We’re obviously short bodies, so it’s nice when you get guys in to fill out the roster," said Todd Richards. "It’s not away from the rick that we’re having injuries. It’s when we’re playing games that we’re having injuries."
"It’s to the point now," he said, "it seems like you hold your breath. Before, as a coach, you just stand behind the bench and just play. But there’s things that have happened to our team over the last two weeks where you’re like ‘whoa’… it’s not a good trend."
Foligno fit to play
Forward Nick Foligno participated in practice Thursday, performing all the drills with little indication that the neck was still bothering him. He was listed as day-to-day after being stretchered off the ice Sunday in a game against the L.A. Kings.
Asked if he had 100% movement back in his neck, Foligno said "It’s definitely enough to go out there and battle in practice. I feel pretty good. I’m still going to take it day-by-day and see how I feel tomorrow. But, the way practice went today, I feel pretty confident that I can get into the lineup tomorrow."
Todd Richards is waiting to hear from the trainers, but is going under the assumption that Foligno will play on Friday versus the Toronto Maple Leafs based on what he saw in practice today.
Forward Matt Calvert could return to the lineup as soon as Saturday for the game in New Jersey against the Devils, according to Todd Richards. Calvert, on Injured Reserve with an upper-body injury since last Friday, has not practiced with the team this week.
Forward Boone Jenner (remember him?) is getting close to a return and has been practicing with the team. After having surgery on his broken left hand, he seems to be handling the stick and puck well enough to get in and play.
He indicated after practice Thursday that it’s aggravating not being able to help out his teammates.
"Obviously with the injury, it’s tough to watch games," Jenner said. "Injuries are happening… I mean it’s all coming down at once. That makes you want to (heal) that much quicker. We’re just going to have to heal this and get back into it."
This and that
Center Artem Anisimov is listed as day-to-day with a concussion after leaving the game against Ottawa on Tuesday, the result of a hard hit that saw his head hit the ice sans helmet. He has gone through the NHL concussion protocol.
The Blue Jackets placed forward Mark Letestu (groin) and defenseman James Wisniewski (broken finger) on Injured Reserve Thursday. Letestu is expected to miss two to four weeks and Wisniewski will be out one to two weeks.
Columbus returns to action at 7 p.m. Friday evening as they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nationwide Arena.