The Blue Jackets were back to work at practice this morning after a day off Sunday, and today’s skate featured a couple of welcome additions.
Defensemen Ryan Murray (ankle) and Kevin Connauton (lower body), who have been skating separate from the team as both recover from injuries, joined the team for a formal practice at Nationwide Arena and both appear close to returning.
Connauton is the closer of the two, according to Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards. He was on the verge of a return over the weekend, but the team decided it was best to give him some additional time to rest and in turn, give him some valuable practice time. He’s healthy and cleared to play, but whether he plays tomorrow night in Raleigh remains to be seen.
Murray will travel with the team this afternoon but he’s less of a possibility to play tomorrow. He has been out since suffering a high ankle sprain late in a lopsided win over St. Louis on Feb. 6, slowly working his way back in what has been a frustrating season of injuries for both him and the team.
“It’s feeling better and better every day,” Murray told BlueJackets.com after practice. “There have been no problems with the rehab and everything has been going well. Now it’s just a matter of getting back into game mode.”
Said Richards of Murray’s return: “We’re getting close.”
The Blue Jackets’ defense was one short today after Fedor Tyutin arrived feeling ill this morning and was sent home. He will travel to Carolina and is expected to play tomorrow.
GOING DOWN THE LIST
In another chapter of “because it’s this season,” Jared Boll was struck on the hand by a puck late in today’s practice and left the ice early to have it looked at. He was visibly in pain on the bench before heading down the tunnel, but as of right now, Richards expects Boll to travel on this two-game trip.
“He’s going to get looked at by our doctors, but we’re assuming he’s going to be okay,” Richards said. “It’s just precautionary. We’re doing our due diligence.”
Alexander Wennberg was dinged up from Saturday’s game and was kept off the ice today, Richards said. Wennberg is expected to play tomorrow but there’s a chance he could miss the game; if he does, the Blue Jackets will have a lineup or possibly a roster decision to make.
BACK TO BOB
After tomorrow’s game vs. the Hurricanes, the Blue Jackets will play three games in four days over the weekend. They head to Detroit after playing in Raleigh, are scheduled to practice Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena and face the Red Wings on Thursday night. The next night, they play the Edmonton Oilers at Nationwide Arena, have a day off Saturday, and face the Hurricanes again on Sunday to wrap up a home-and-home.
There’s likely a goaltending decision to be made this weekend, but for now, Richards plans to go back to Sergei Bobrovsky tomorrow. Bobrovsky was solid in 40 minutes of relief work on Saturday vs. Colorado, stopping 20 of 21 shots and keeping the score within striking distance after a disastrous first period.