CHICAGO -- The Columbus Blue Jackets were already short two regular defensemen when they took the ice Friday at United Center for their morning skate.
The shortage got even worse when defenseman John Moore left the ice surface earlier than expected and was pronounced out of Friday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks (7:30 p.m. CT, NHLN-US) with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
The Blue Jackets recalled defenseman Dalton Prout from Springfield of the American Hockey League, but his flight isn't scheduled to arrive in Chicago until early evening. Prout might not arrive at United Center until just before the game's start or later.
There is no "Plan B" if Prout can't get to the arena in time.
"We're just going to have to go with five [defensemen] and when he gets here, he'll have to dress and get on the ice," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "It's just another thing that we're dealing with, and we've been dealing with it for what seems like quite some time."
Prout was Columbus' sixth-round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. He has one goal and eight assists in 40 games with Springfield this season and tallied four goals and nine assists in 62 games a year ago.
Columbus brought six defensemen to the Windy City, with James Wisniewski (lower body) and Jack Johnson (upper body) on injured reserve. Top center Derick Brassard (day-to-day, upper body) also didn't make the trip after getting hurt in Tuesday's 5-4 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars.
"Again, it's going to be more ice time [for] guys like our young guys, like [Tim Erixon] and [Cody Goloubef] and Dalton coming up," Richards said. "There's opportunity, and Dalton's going to get thrust right into the middle of it, playing the best team in the League right now and playing in their building and having to travel all day to get here. It'll be challenging."
The Blue Jackets' young players sound ready for the challenge, including 20-year old center Ryan Johansen, Columbus' top pick (No. 4) in the 2010 NHL Draft. Johansen, who was recently recalled from Springfield because of injury depth issues, will center the Blue Jackets' top line in place of Brassard.
"[It's] our older guys, our leaders and top-end players who are pretty banged-up right now," Johansen told NHL.com on Friday. "But that makes it exciting for us young guys to come in here and try to be the difference-makers out there in the game. We're going to simplify our game a little bit, in those situations where [the injured guys] might use a little more creativity, but as long as we're playing that north-south game and managing the puck well, this team can make plays."
Erixon is looking forward to the challenge of facing the Blackhawks with more ice time next to his name on the stat sheet.
"Of course, we're missing [Johnson] and [Wisniewski] and those guys that are our top guys," Erixon said. "I enjoyed playing with Wiz when he was healthy, but we have a couple of guys gone, so we've just got to try and step up. I love being out there, getting to play more and being a [bigger] part of the team."
|Back to top|