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Atkinson, Anisimov expected to return Thursday in Detroit

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets arrived home from California around dinner time yesterday and got back on the ice this morning for a detail-oriented practice at the OhioHealth Ice Haus.

It was a much-needed practice session that allowed the coaching staff to go over some of the finer points from both a systematic and philosophical standpoint, and the big news was the full-fledged return of two players missing from the lineup. Both Cam Atkinson (on injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 23) and Artem Anisimov (out since blocking a shot last week in Los Angeles) are expected to play Thursday night against the Red Wings, coach Todd Richards said, and it's sure to be a big boost.

As a result of both players' anticipated returns, Richards said Nick Drazenovic would be reassigned to Springfield this afternoon. The news, however, wasn't as positive for Brandon Dubinsky, who has not played since sustaining a lower body injury in Phoenix.

"Right now, it's probably more than day-to-day," Richards said. "It might be a week to two weeks, but it's nothing serious. I don't think it's anything where we'd have to (put him on injured reserve."

Both goaltenders participated in today's skate and the lines from Monday's game were essentially intact, save for the two additions.

Here are the Blue Jackets' lines from practice today:

Calvert - Anisimov - Foligno

Umberger - Brassard - Atkinson

Prospal- Letestu - Dorsett

Gillies - MacKenzie - Boll

Tyutin - Nikitin

Johnson - Aucoin

Moore/Erixon - Wisniewski



Injuries are becoming a problem for many teams around the NHL, and the Red Wings are no exception. Already without the services of Johan Franzen (hip), Todd Bertuzzi (back), Carlo Colaiacovo (collar bone), Darren Helm (back) and Brendan Smith (shoulder), Detroit may have picked up more than an overtime loss in Nashville earlier this week.

Mikael Samuelsson, who just returned from injury, was hit with a puck in practice and was supposed to be further evaluated today. Goalie Jimmy Howard left the game in Nashville in the first period with blurry vision, coach Mike Babcock said, which may have stemmed from getting hit by a shot days before.

Jonas Gustavsson, just activated off injured reserve, came on in relief and made 16 saves in the Predators' overtime win.

“He got hit in practice I guess, and I didn’t know about that,” Babcock told about Howard's injury. “He wasn’t seeing good, or something like that. I was watching the game and someone told me. We made the switch and tried to buy some time for Gus to get ready and put him in.”

Regardless of who's in our out of the Detroit lineup, it's still a formidable opponent, Richards said. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are in top form to start the season, and just two nights ago, Datsyuk scored one of the more incredible goals of the NHL season. Seconds after the Predators took a 3-2 lead, Datsyuk dangled through four Nashville players and tied the game.

"No different than any other team, we expect to get their best," Richards said. "They're a puck possession team and they'll test you in a lot of areas, your discipline and your structure to your game. Some of their guys have played together for a long time so there's that chemistry there, and the certain style they play...they'll test us in that area."

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