Jackets, Blackhawks both shuffling rearguard prior to clash
Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Chicago Blackhawks are doing the blue-line shuffle to end the week, with lineup changes almost certain.
The winless Blue Jackets (0-2-0) hope to break that streak as they host the Blackhawks (2-2-0) on Friday night at Nationwide Arena, with defenseman Ryan Murray drawing back into the lineup. Chicago, looking to extend its winning streak after dropping the first two games of the season, will have defensemen Brian Campbell and Michal Rozsival taking a seat.
After six days without playing a game, the Blue Jackets are itching to drop the puck in search of that elusive first win.
"It's a big game for us," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said via the team website. "We've been sitting on 0-2 for a week here. It sucks. We need to have a good start and feel good about ourselves."
The team's best period the early season also happened to be the last one against the San Jose Sharks, establishing a stout forecheck and scoring twice before ultimately losing 3-2 at home.
Murray was reunited with Seth Jones on the top defensive-pairing in Thursday's practice, with rookie Zach Werenski dropping down to the second-pairing with David Savard. Rounding-out the final pair was Jack Johnson and Markus Nutivaara.
Tortorella had a simple answer when asked about the change.
"I didn't like how the pairs played in the last game," he said.
He's also cognizant of not overworking Werenski after just two NHL games. In the absence of Murray against the Sharks, the 19-year old logged significant ice time (22:53) with one goal and four shots over 27 shifts, while playing primarily with Jones.
"We have to be careful with (Werenski)," Tortorella said. "He's still a young man."
Over the last five seasons with the Florida Panthers, Brian Campbell never missed a regular-season game. It appears that he'll be sitting for Friday's game, joining Michal Rozsival, who hasn't played in any of the first four games. Campbell's offseason acquisition was heralded as what was missing on a defense that struggled last season.
Trevor van Riemsdyk had a poor game on opening night against the St. Louis Blues, recording 0-0-0, with zero shots and 4 PIM. He rode the pine for the next three games.
"We don't want the same two guys sitting out all the time," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said to the Chicago Sun-Times. "Sometimes you don't want to tinker with a winning lineup, and sometimes... you've got to get them in there to play. That's what we're visiting."
Van Riemsdyk played in all 82 games last season for the Blackhawks, but finds himself fighting for ice time on a blue-line crowded with eight defensemen.
Columbus announced Thursday that defenseman Cody Goloubef (oblique injury) was placed on waivers, so that he could be assigned to the team's AHL Cleveland Monsters, ostensibly to get him playing time coming off the injury. If he clears at noon on Friday, he'll report to Cleveland.
For Chicago, its injury situation is a touch longer than the Blue Jackets.
Marian Hossa, having scored his 500th goal in Tuesday's win over the Philadelphia Flyers, suffered a lower-body injury after blocking a shot in the latter stages of the game. He's considered day-to-day and is questionable for Friday's game in Columbus and Saturday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Rookie forward Ryan Hartman, having missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, could return to the lineup Friday.
The two starting goalies for Friday's game are expected to be Sergei Bobrovsky for Columbus and Corey Crawford for Chicago.