Todd Richards made it official a short while ago: Nick Foligno is back in the lineup for Game 3 tonight.
Foligno has been out with a lower body injury since Apr. 3 and the Blue Jackets have missed him. He's one of their most versatile players (capable of playing all three forward positions), has playoff experience from his time in Ottawa, and scored 18 goals during the regular season - so it's not a reach to say that his return is a significant one.
He skated at right wing this morning on a line with Artem Anisimov at center and RJ Umberger on the opposite wing, and it's a testament to the Jackets' depth up front that this could be considered a "third line." Columbus struggled with injuries down the stretch but got Umberger back for Game 2 and now Foligno's return gives them another weapon.
"Nick's the one guy on our team that break down a defense on his own," Richards said after the Jackets' morning skate.
Foligno said while it was hard to watch the team's first two playoff games, he got a feel for the game and some of the nuances of the series by observing from upstairs.
But he's really glad it was only a two-game study.
"I'm really excited," Foligno said, admitting an understatement. "The energy, the buzz in the city has been awesome. The energy in the building is going to be great tonight. I'm just looking forward to joining the battle, so to speak.
"Obviously there's going to be a little bit of catch-up. Our strength and conditioning coaches and the trainers made sure my conditioning was up, and I feel great out there. I'm expecting (the legs) to come back quick."
TYUTIN OUT, PROUT IN
Fedor Tyutin played just 6:55 in Game 2 and did not return after the first period with an undisclosed injury. He did not take the ice for the Blue Jackets' morning skate today and will not play tonight in Game 3.
Richards, in keeping with the theme established earlier in the series, would not get into specifics regarding injuries but confirmed Tyutin won't play. Dalton Prout takes his spot in the lineup and will pair up with Nikita Nikitin in his first career Stanley Cup playoff game.
Asked what he's looking for out of Prout tonight, Richards said he likes the idea of Prout's physical element being part of the blue line and he wants him to play a simple, straightforward game both with and without the puck.
Here's the projected Blue Jackets lineup tonight:
Jenner - Johansen - Skille
Calvert - Dubinsky - Atkinson
Umberger - Anisimov - Foligno
MacKenzie - Letestu - Comeau
Murray - Wisniewski
Johnson - Savard
Nikitin - Prout