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At the Rink blog

Blue Jackets don't expect letdown without Bobrovsky

Friday, 12.06.2013 / 11:58 AM

By Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

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2013-2014 At the Rink Blog
Blue Jackets don't expect letdown without Bobrovsky

COLUMBUS -- A team can go one of two directions when a top player goes down with an injury.

Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said he doesn't think his team will go downward after the loss of starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky for 4-5 weeks due to a groin strain.

"I'm not worried about [the season] going the other way," he said. "Your team needs to respond under this circumstance. It doesn't really matter who's playing."

The Blue Jackets' first game since Bobrovsky, last season's Vezina Trophy winner, was injured Tuesday making a save against the Tampa Bay Lightning will be Friday against the Minnesota Wild.

It will be a chance for Curtis McElhinney to claim the No. 1 spot for likely a minimum of 15 games until Bobrovsky returns. Mike McKenna, recalled from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League, will be his backup.

"It's all about getting that first game under my belt, then going from there," McElhinney said. "In terms of the length, if I get 15 straight games that would be terrific. If it ends up being a couple [games not playing] here or there we'll see how it plays out."

In eight games, McElhinney is 1-3-1 with a 2.34 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. He's played 77 NHL games in six seasons with the Calgary Flames, Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators, Phoenix Coyotes and Blue Jackets.

"He's played a lot of years in this League," Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski said. "We're very confident in his ability."

Wisniewski is not one to believe the Blue Jackets need to rally behind the backup goalie.

"He's an NHL goalie so he's got to be good," he said. "I hope we don't need that type of thing. Being professionals, we have to understand we get paid to win hockey games, so no matter who's out there in the net we have to give 100 percent and turn this thing around."

Columbus will have Derek MacKenzie back in the lineup after he missed five games with a back injury. He'll center the fourth line and replace Jack Skille.

The Blue Jackets (11-14-3) beat the Lightning with McElhinney in relief and have alternated wins and losses the past nine games. They have gone 18 games without consecutive victories since winning three straight from Oct. 20-25.

Minnesota (17-8-5) beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 Thursday with two third-period goals, including the winner by defenseman Marco Scandella with 1:48 remaining.

"We don't have a whole lot of time to get too emotional about this one," Wild coach Mike Yeo said Thursday. "It's a good win but we've got another test [Friday]. They're sitting there waiting for us. … It's going to be a good challenge. We have a lot of respect for that team. We know they are going to play very hard in their building."

Yeo said earlier in the week Niklas Backstrom could start in goal against the Blue Jackets after Josh Harding faced the Blackhawks. Backstrom is 11-5-2 with a 2.11 GAA in his career against Columbus.

The projected lineups for Minnesota at Columbus:

WILD

Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Jason Pominville

Nino Niederreiter - Charlie Coyle - Dany Heatley

Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Torrey Mitchell

Justin Fontaine - Erik Haula - Mike Rupp

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Keith Ballard - Clayton Stoner

Niklas Backstrom

Josh Harding

Scratched: Matt Dumba, Zenon Konopka, Nate Prosser

Injured: Mikael Granlund (concussion)

BLUE JACKETS

Nick Foligno - Ryan Johansen - RJ Umberger

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Boone Jenner - Artem Anisimov - Blake Comeau

Corey Tropp - Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu

Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson

Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski

Nikita Nikitin - Dalton Prout

Curtis McElhinney

Mike McKenna

Scratched: David Savard, Jack Skille

Injured: Sergei Bobrovsky (groin) Jared Boll (foot), Marian Gaborik (knee), Nathan Horton (shoulder)

Quote of the Day

Not only is it a great idea, but if you don't [start using analytics] you're going to fall behind. You have to be on the cutting edge. It was [Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager] Darcy Regier who said, 'If you didn't invent it, you have to be the second- or third-best copier, because if you're fourth or fifth you've got no chance.'

— Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on his interest in advanced statistical analysis