Brandon Dubinsky has been slowly inching back toward the Blue Jackets lineup for the past two weeks, but he will finally make his season debut on Tuesday night when the Blue Jackets host the Philadelphia Flyers.
Dubinsky took full part in Monday’s practice, centering Cam Atkinson and Matt Calvert during line rushes. He also worked with one of the power play units at the end of the session, and Kerby Rychel was pushed down to fourth line duty.
After the skate, coach Todd Richards all but confirmed that Dubinsky will make his season debut against Philadelphia.
“I think there’s lots of excitement," Richards said. "I think his teammates and everyone involved with the team is excited, but there’s other guys too that are on the shelf right now."
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The Blue Jackets, who lead the NHL by a wide margin in man games lost to injury this season, are still without key parts of their lineup in Mark Letestu, Fedor Tyutin, and Ryan Murray, who are each weeks away from returning.
Cody Goloubef (knee) took part in practice and is closer to a return, but has no return date set as of yet.
Still, Dubinsky brings to the lineup what few other players can and his absence from the lineup has certainly been noticeable this season.
“He’s big and strong. He can skate with tenacity, the way that he plays,” said Richards. “He brings some emotion. His first game back, the first game that he plays, there’s going to be some excitement in a big divisional game against the Flyers.”
Dubinsky has been out since the early part of training camp after undergoing surgery to repair an abdominal injury. He scored 16 goals and 50 points in 76 games last season, his first full campaign in Columbus. He tacked on a goal and five assists in six playoff games, that one goal forcing overtime late in Game 4 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.