Both the Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins received positive news when their teams took the ice for practice on Tuesday. Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Murray, who missed practice due to maintenance on Monday, returned to the ice for an hour-long practice at the OhioHealth Ice Haus.
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, Penguins center Evgeni Malkin - who has missed significant time with a foot injury - rejoined the team for practice and participated in regular line rushes. Malkin, part of Pittsburgh's two-headed monster down the middle, appears to be ready to go for Game 1 tomorrow night at CONSOL Energy Center.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said after their practice today that they'll monitor Malkin's status heading into tomorrow's game before making any final lineup in decisions.
[Hops in time travel machine back to Columbus]
Here are the lines employed by Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards today:
Jenner - Johansen - Skille
Calvert - Dubinsky - Atkinson
MacKenzie - Anisimov - Comeau
Tropp - Letestu - Boll
And, the defense pairs (with one change):
Murray - Wisniewski
Tyutin - Johnson
Nikitin - Savard
And one more alignment note, on the Jackets' power play units: the first unit was Jenner-Johansen-Letestu up front with Johnson-Wisniewski manning the points. On the second unit, Calvert-Dubinsky-Atkinson was the forward unit with Tyutin and Savard on the back end.
The change on defense today was Nikita Nikitin taking regular shifts alongside David Savard, the latter of whom has been a mainstay in the Blue Jackets' top six for essentially the entire season. He's been one of the team's feel-good stories on the back end, along with James Wisniewski, who finished the regular season with 51 points (44 assists) and was a big-time weapon on the power play.
If this lineup holds, that means Nick Schultz is a healthy scratch tomorrow in Game 1.
Also on the injury front: Richards had a positive update on both Nick Foligno (lower body) and RJ Umberger (upper body), who skated together before the full-team practice today - their second straight day of skating in full gear after Foligno began skating on his own over the weekend.
They're both on a similar timeline, Richards said, and there's a possibility one or both could be ready to play in Game 2 on Saturday.