Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards referenced the old saying "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" when talking about Matt Calvert's imminent return.
Missing from the Blue Jackets lineup since Dec. 21, Calvert is slated to return tomorrow night for an important divisional game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Nationwide Arena. The team has gone 4-3-0 since Calvert suffered an upper body injury vs. the Philadelphia Flyers, but Richards acknowledged his team sometimes lacks energy without Calvert in the lineup.
He's the type of player that drags his teammates into games, Richards said, because of the way he plays and how it forces his line mates to raise their game as well.
"It's a little bit like (the saying), but you can say that about a lot of our guys," Richards said. "There are certain aspects that everybody brings to the team, and when somebody's out of the lineup, throughout a game you're like 'man, it'd be nice if we had that back.'
"There are certain elements with Matt's game that he brings; to me it's his feistiness, his attitude, he can score. There are lots of things that he brings."
Here's how the Blue Jackets lined up in today's practice:
Calvert - Dubinsky - Atkinson
Jenner - Anisimov - Horton
Foligno - Johansen - Umberger
Comeau* - Letestu - Tropp
*More on Comeau below...
- Comeau was injured and left practice early after getting tangled up with Jack Johnson. He didn't put any weight on his left leg as he left, but Richards said post-practice that the extent of the injury wasn't yet known: "We're due to get Calvert back and it gets you excited, and then another player gets injured. It's a frustrating thing."
- Expect Sergei Bobrovsky to start tomorrow night against the Hurricanes.
- Dalton Prout (upper body) said he's been cleared to play and is waiting for his chance to get back in the lineup. There's a chance that the Blue Jackets dress seven defensemen tomorrow night if Comeau is out and Ryan Craig isn't cleared to play, Richards said, but that has not yet been decided upon. The last time the Blue Jackets dressed seven defensemen, Richards liked the result.
- Injuries, still, are not an excuse for Richards as he and the Blue Jackets search for consistency. They're starting to get healthy and will get Derek MacKenzie back from suspension for Saturday's game in Winnipeg, and they've managed to stay in the playoff race despite a heavy bout of injuries. But teams in the Metropolitan Division are starting to "take off," Richards said, and the Blue Jackets have to string some wins together and keep pace.
- As for today's re-configured line combinations, Richards felt they were the best way to achieve three balanced lines that can score. He really likes the Calvert-Dubinsky-Atkinson trio, and despite some recent "inconsistencies" in Atkinson's game, Richards said playing with Calvert and Dubinsky brings out the best in Atkinson.