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Foligno could join Umberger in returning for Jackets

Friday, 04.18.2014 / 2:18 PM

By Craig Merz - Correspondent / Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

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Foligno could join Umberger in returning for Jackets

COLUMBUS -- After saying Thursday that Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno would not play Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series, a day later coach Todd Richards is reconsidering.

Foligno, who has missed the past six games with a knee injury, had another excellent practice Friday and may make it hard for Richards to keep him out of the lineup when the Blue Jackets again chase the franchise's first Stanley Cup Playoff win Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT) against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Consol Energy Center.

The Penguins won Game 1 of the best-of-7 series 4-3 on Wednesday.

Richards will consult with athletic trainer Mike Vogt and Foligno after the morning skate Saturday.

"If you ask Nick, he wants to play tomorrow, but we've got to make the right decision," Richards said. "Sometimes you have to intervene because they just want to play. You don't want to put them in a risky position where they can make it worse."

If Foligno plays, it would mark the return of two 18-goal scorers because left wing RJ Umberger (upper body) is healthy after sitting the past four games.

"Hopefully he'll bring some energy and excitement, because he's been out a little bit and it's a chance to get back with the group and come in and contribute," Richards said of Umberger.

He was a healthy scratch for the first time in his NHL career March 20 at the Montreal Canadiens and sat three of the next six games before being injured April 6 against the New York Islanders.

"The injury might have been a benefit in disguise for me," Umberger said. "It allowed some other things to heal up. I feel great right now."

Umberger is one of the more playoff-tested Columbus players with 19 points (14 goals, five assists) in 26 games for the Philadelphia Flyers and Blue Jackets.

"He's got playoff experience," Richards said. "He's played in big games and had big moments, and is a guy who has proven over the years that he can finish when given an opportunity."

Umberger will be on a line with center Artem Anisimov and Blake Comeau.

If Foligno does not play, Richards will likely reunite the fourth line of center Mark Letestu with left wing Derek MacKenzie and right wing Corey Tropp.

"It's easy for us to play together," Letestu said. "All three of us bring energy. The expectations for each other are pretty similar."

The other lines at practice Friday in Nationwide Arena featured Ryan Johansen centering Boone Jenner and Jack Skille, and Brandon Dubinsky with Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson.

Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky will start again and no changes are expected on the defense.

Quote of the Day

Well, for me this one's concerning, the way we performed. Because three games in, playing a desperate team on the road, I was expecting something else than this. Right now, I'm just disappointed. The other games, I thought we did some things that you can build off your game. There wasn't a lot accomplished in tonight's game.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards after a 4-2 loss to the Sabres on Monday dropped Columbus to 0-3-0
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