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Johansen to return, Saad out (illness) as Jackets travel to D.C.

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The good news is that the Blue Jackets expect to have No. 1 center Ryan Johansen back in the lineup tomorrow night when they face the Washington Capitals.

The bad news is they’ll be without Brandon Saad, who missed practice Thursday due to illness and is not making the trip to D.C. with the team.

Johansen missed the previous two games and was resting and recovering back in Columbus, but said he skated Tuesday and Wednesday by himself in order to get a head start before returning to practice.

“I’m back to 100 percent,” Johansen said after practice. “It’s good to be back out there with the guys. (The recovery) was just taking care of your body: all the little things, nutrients, fluids, and do everything you can to get yourself ready to play.”

Merely coming back to the rink today and being around his teammates was a lift for Johansen, who watched from afar as the Blue Jackets picked up their first two wins of the season in back-to-back fashion over Colorado and New Jersey.

The illness itself was unsettling for Johansen, who admitted that he was slightly concerned about what was going on with his body. Under the watchful eye of the club’s medical staff, he continuously improved over the last few days and all was positive after his first skate back with the team (which was a fast-paced, intense practice).

“Like any person, you get all these thoughts in your head, stupid ideas (about what’s wrong) and you never really know,” Johansen said. “I’m just thankful for the staff we have here, and getting to the bottom of it so I can be 100 percent today. Everyone that’s helped me out has been great. It was awesome walking back in here today with the guys and getting ready to go.”

Other stuff from the rink today:

- Here’s Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella on Saad: “He’s going to stay home. We just don’t want it (spreading), so he will not be playing tomorrow.”

- Brandon Dubinsky was on left wing with Johansen and Cam Atkinson today, a new-look line for the Blue Jackets as they prepare for the Capitals tomorrow. Tortorella said he’s going to experiment with Dubinsky on the wing and see if there’s a fit with Johansen, but he could move back to the middle during the game.

- Tortorella also said Dubinsky would continue to take face-offs and play the crucial minutes he’s been logging. Another element to the Dubinsky move is keeping William Karlsson, who has really impressed the new head coach, at his natural center position as a reward for his performance.

- The coach on Karlsson: “He looks like a smart player. I think he’s cerebral. He can skate. He makes subtle plays that a lot of people may not see watching the game, but as a coach looking at the details of it, he’s a smart guy. For a young kid, being put in the spots he’s been put in right now, he’s handled it pretty well. Right now, he deserves to be where it’s at in a top-nine position.”

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