BLUE JACKETS (26-33-4) at DEVILS (27-27-10)
TV: FS-O, MSG+
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Columbus Blue Jackets have been decimated by injuries this season, with the latest being forward David Clarkson, who will miss four to six weeks because of a torn oblique muscle. Clarkson played in two games after being acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs last week.
With their game Friday against the New Jersey Devils, the Blue Jackets announced they will set a franchise record for man-games lost in a season with 413; the old mark of 411 was set during the 2010-11 season.
"It's been difficult, to be honest," Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno said. "It has not been an easy situation to have that many guys out of the lineup when all you want is to see how your team is like healthy. But the way you stay positive is that you still have a job to do and you still have to find ways to win hockey games in this League. … There have been a lot of opportunities for other guys because of it."
The Blue Jackets will get one injured player back in the lineup. Forward Brandon Dubinsky, who missed three games because of a concussion, will play. Dubinsky didn't speak to reporters but one of his linemates, Brian Gibbons, is excited for his return.
"He's a really complete player that can do everything well; one of the best two-way forwards in the game," Gibbons said. "He might be known for more of his checking game and getting under the other team's skin and playing against the other team's best player but he definitely has a lot of offensive skill."
Foligno agreed that it was important to have Dubinsky back in the lineup.
"He's a big on-ice leader for us, a guy in the locker room that gets guys into the battle," he said of Dubinsky. "He's a big-time player for us so it's huge for us to have a guy with his type of presence back in the lineup who really plays the game hard and makes us a better team."
The Devils are aware of the Blue Jackets' injury problems but aren't focusing on that.
"They've had a lot of injuries throughout the year, but right now all we are focused on is Columbus and how we play," Devils co-coach Lou Lamoriello said. "Every game to us is the most important one."
The Devils are eight points behind the Boston Bruins for the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There also are three teams in front of them.
"You can't help but look [at the standings] a little bit at what's going on," Devils forward Dainius Zubrus said. "We've done better lately a little bit, and I'm curious to see if we are making up any ground really, so I think it's normal. A lot of people do it. We have to win our games. Nothing is going to happen unless we do."
New Jersey is 8-2-1 in their past 11 games at Prudential Center.
"We've lost some games but you've got to be able to close the door and move past it and get ready for the next one," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "We've had some good moments; we just haven't found ways to win hockey games."
Here are the projected lineups:
Scratched: Kevin Connauton
Status update: Lamoriello said he did not anticipate any lineup changes for the Devils. … Connauton will not play but may return to the lineup Saturday.
Who's hot: Cammalleri has six goals and three assists during his seven-game points streak. … Schneider is 9-2-1 with a .937 save percentage and a 1.87 goals-against average in 12 games against the Blue Jackets. … Hartnell has four points in his past two games.