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Clarkson returns, McElhinney starts tonight in Winnipeg

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets


The Blue Jackets have points in each of their last three games, but only one of those is a victory.

And the process to earn those points has been a wild pattern of inconsistency that’s got coach John Tortorella flummoxed. Why does a strong performance in Montreal get answered by a lackluster effort against Florida, let alone on home ice?

Why does a complete, 60-minute game against the Flyers get followed up by a game on Tuesday against the Kings in which they were fortunate to secure a single point?

Tortorella doesn’t have the answers yet, but in some cases, that’s okay. The Blue Jackets are by and large a young team that’s still finding their way, but their trend of peaks and valleys could use some smoothing out if they’re going to claw their way back into the conversation.

So, does the coach have an idea of where his team stands entering this game?

“I really don’t, and I don’t say that to be smart about it,” Tortorella said. “This is part of my frustration with the club…the up and down that we have as far as our readiness, our hardness. I felt so good about the club after Philly, and then as a group, we were nowhere to be found against L.A.

“I’m anxious to see (our response), if we can stop this peak and valley thing we’re going through and steady ourselves and be a team that plays the right way every night.”

Curtis McElhinney gets the call between the pipes and is still in search of his first win of the season (0-4-1), a statistic that doesn’t mean much to Tortorella because of how well he’s played under some difficult circumstances.

The latest was Tuesday, when McElhinney – without a start in two weeks – had to come into the game cold with 5:35 to play and a one-goal lead.

“There are no adjustments because of the goalie. There certainly have to be adjustments just due to our play (of late). Mac will go in there and we feel very confident with him,” Tortorella said.

Other stuff from today:

- One change up front for the Blue Jackets, and that’s the return of David Clarkson after missing 16 games due to a back injury. He’ll skate on the fourth line with William Karlsson and Gregory Campbell.

- Michael Chaput will be a healthy scratch. Joonas Korpisalo is the backup goaltender.

- The defense pairings will remain the same as they were against Philadelphia and Los Angeles: Johnson-Savard, Tyutin-Prout, Bodnarchuk-Murray.

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