Right into the fire you go, David Clarkson.
The newly-acquired Blue Jackets right winger arrived in Columbus late last night after getting immigration clearance, and this morning, he took part in an optional skate with seven of his new teammates before making his debut today against New Jersey – the team he started his career with.
When he hops over the boards for his first shift with the Blue Jackets, he will do so alongside Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno on the No. 1 line.
“They’re both very talented and they work hard,” Clarkson said. “I’ll just have to play my game, do the little things. You see how hard Nick works, and just the talent that’s in this room alone and not just those guys. I’ll get this first game underneath me and go from there.”
Like any other player on the roster, Richards has expectations for Clarkson even if he’s been here for about 14 hours. But his experience from playing for two other teams and two other systems, coupled with his north-south style of play, figure to help him get acclimated quickly.
“He’s been around enough and played in different situations,” Richards said. “The systems in hockey when you go from one team to another are real close. Right now, it’s probably just figuring out your teammates and what they’re going to do.
“There are expectations for everyone. There are expectations for the way our team should be playing. From talking to other coaches who have coached him, I’m expecting him to come in and play a simple, strong and aggressive game.”
DUBI OUT INDEFINITELY
Brandon Dubinsky left Thursday’s game against Montreal after scoring a goal early in the first period and did not return. There was some surprise when, Friday morning at the OhioHealth Ice Haus, Dubinsky took the ice for practice – but he left practice early and Richards revealed the reason why earlier today.
Dubinsky felt great when he came to the rink Friday morning, Richards said, but that changed during practice. He started to develop symptoms and the team’s medical staff got him off the ice and soon after diagnosed him with a concussion. He is out indefinitely, joining Matt Calvert as Blue Jackets players to receive concussion diagnoses in the past 24 hours.
BOB BACKS UP
The original plan was for Oscar Dansk to back up Curtis McElhinney today, but after a hard morning skate, Sergei Bobrovsky came off the ice and deemed himself ready to go. The Blue Jackets have been patient and cautious with Bobrovsky’s recovery from a groin injury suffered Jan. 21 in Winnipeg – one that caused him to miss the NHL All-Star Game in Columbus – waiting for him to let them know when he feels 100 percent.
That green light came this morning, so the Blue Jackets sent Dansk back to Springfield and officially activated Bobrovsky off injured reserve.
CHANGES ON DEFENSE
Dalton Prout has ramped up his work in practice over the past few days, and Richards said yesterday that he was getting close to a return from an upper body injury. He returns today against the Devils, playing his first game since the Blue Jackets’ Feb. 7 victory in Ottawa.
With Prout back in the mix, Jordan Leopold is a healthy scratch on the blue line. The defense pairs for today are Johnson-Savard, Tyutin-Wisniewski, Goloubef-Prout.
The rest of the forward lines are Hartnell-Wennberg-Atkinson, Gibbons-Anisimov-Dano, Tropp-Letestu-Boll.