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Injuries beginning to mount up front for Blue Jackets

Atkinson placed on IR, Calvert heads home with injury from big hit; Carlsson activated.

by Brian Hedger @JacketsInsider /

NEW YORK - The injuries are piling up for the Blue Jackets, who lost forward Matt Calvert to an upper-body injury Saturday night and then placed forward Cam Atkinson on injured reserve Sunday.

Defenseman Gabriel Carlsson, who's been on IR retroactive to Oct. 13, was also activated Sunday at the same time as the Atkinson move.

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella has some decisions to make now, with Calvert unavailable and both Atkinson and center Lukas Sedlak on IR. There's a chance Carlsson might play Monday at Madison Square Garden, when the Blue Jackets conclude a three-game road trip against the New York Rangers (7 p.m., Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go, 97.1 FM).

"It's not difficult," Tortorella said of his lineup, prior to the Blue Jackets' 5-4 shootout loss Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. "It's what we are right now, and you've got to find a way. We're not the only team that is still trying to figure out maybe what their lines are, and what our depth is, as far as the forward lines. So, we've got to work through it."

Atkinson has missed the past three games with his injury, which stems from the Blue Jackets' 4-1 loss against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 28 at Scottrade Center. In that game, he missed time at the end of the second period, skated two shifts in the third and left the game.

Atkinson's IR status is retroactive to that date, and he remains day-to-day.

Calvert, meanwhile, took a big hit from Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi at 4:52 of the third period Saturday night and left the game. His helmet was knocked off, and he was sent hard to the ice in the neutral zone.

Calvert sustained an upper-body injury from the hit - a shoulder-to-shoulder blow - and flew home Sunday rather than going with the team to New York.

"Clean hit," Tortorella said after the game. "Danny Girardi's not going after anybody's head. That's just a clean hit. It's unfortunate 'Calvy' gets banged up, and I'm not sure what it is."

The Blue Jackets are off to their best start in franchise history, with 19 points in their first 14 games, and can surpass their best start after 15 games (20 points) with a victory against the Rangers.

Without Calvert, Atkinson and Sedlak, it will be a challenge. It's unclear how Tortorella will configure his forward lines. The Blue Jackets didn't practice Sunday, and will not hold a morning skate Monday. The first look at the lineup will be during pregame warmups.

Tortorella was already shuffling lines around, even when all forwards were available, in the search for combinations that worked. Now, he will be without three forwards who began the season as everyday players: Atkinson (lower body), Lukas Sedlak (ankle) and Calvert.

After Calvert left the game, Tortorella mixed and matched his remaining 11 forwards for the rest of regulation, getting two big goals from Markus Hannikainen and Brandon Dubinsky to tie the game.

"I thought when we moved the lines around, we ended up with a little bit more offense," Tortorella said afterward. "Not sure what's going to happen with Calvy, not sure what's going to happen with Cam. Not sure what I'm going to do with my lines, but we found a way to get a point."

Tortorella wasn't kidding. A look at the shift chart from the game shows there were no set combinations after Calvert left.

For instance, when Hannikainen scored at 9:46 to make it 4-3, his linemates on that shift were Boone Jenner and Sonny Milano. Brandon Dubinsky's wingers for his game-tying goal at 11:45 were Jenner and Oliver Bjorkstrand.

Nick Foligno even got bumped out to right wing at one point, with Alexander Wennberg centering he and Artemi Panarin. Tyler Motte also spent a shift or two playing with Panarin.

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