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Dubinsky's absence leaves a large void

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

There have only been two suspensions handed down by the NHL's Department of Player Safety in this truncated season, but the Blue Jackets hope they're not staring down at the third.

At the 11:29 mark of the second period last night against Los Angeles, Columbus center Brandon Dubinsky chased a loose puck into the right wing corner along with Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi. Dubinsky finished a hard check that appeared to catch Scuderi in the head, and was assessed a five minute boarding major on the play as well as a game misconduct.

Immediately following the hit, Kings center Mike Richards instigated a fight with Dubinsky and negated most of what would have been a lengthy power play for Los Angeles. Scuderi was down on the ice momentarily, but eventually made it to the bench and was able to finish the game.

As with all boarding majors and game misconducts, the Dubinsky hit is likely to be reviewed by NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan -- if it has not been already. Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards did not want to comment on the hit or the penalty, but accepted the penalties assessed on the play.

Dubinsky has been one of the Blue Jackets' most reliable forwards this season, playing in all situations and averaging roughly 20 minutes of ice time per game. Though nothing has been decided, Richards said losing Dubinsky's energy in the lineup would be significant.

"He's our spark plug, is the way I'm looking at him right now with energy and speed and the way that he plays the game," Richards said. "As far as the hit, the referees called it. I'm not going to talk about whether I liked it or I didn't like it, but they called it. And now we just have to deal with whatever comes with it."

Derick Brassard, who has been playing left wing on the Dubinsky line, would be one of the candidates to step back in the middle if Dubinsky is required to sit out any games.

"Obviously he's a big part of our team, with his work ethic and how he plays the game," Brassard said. "For sure, we missed him for the rest of the game and those things happen. When stuff like that happens, the other guys are there to step up and we have depth here and need to figure it out without him."

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