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Anisimov, Blue Jackets relieved he's good to go

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Eight days after a scary collision at Joe Louis Arena left Columbus Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov motionless on the ice, he will get back into a game Friday night at United Center.

Anisimov, a big-bodied Russian forward, will have missed three games because of the upper-body injury that stemmed from the incident against the Detroit Red Wings. He will center a line between Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson on Friday (8:30 p.m. ET), when Columbus plays the Chicago Blackhawks (17-0-3), who haven't lost in regulation and have twice beaten the Blue Jackets (5-12-3) in a pair of one-goal games.

"He hasn't done a whole lot leading up to it, so we're going to have to be smart in how we manage his minutes," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "He needs to be really solid 5-on-5 and then we'll go from there. If his energy's good and he feels good, we can start using him maybe on the power play or penalty kill, as well. [Just] having that big presence up the middle of the ice, some size and some skill, [is good for us]."

Getting Anisimov back this quickly is a bonus, considering how bad the injury looked initially. Anisimov was sandwiched while going for a loose puck behind the Red Wings net between defensemen Ian White and Kyle Quincey. White knocked him off-balance and sent Anisimov into Quincey. They both fell to the ice, but Quincey's left arm and almost all of his weight landed on Anisimov's helmet. Initially, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Columbus forward was laid out on his back and wasn't moving any of his limbs.

He spent the night in a Detroit hospital before returning to Columbus.

"It was scary for me," Anisimov told after Friday's morning skate. "I want to say thank you for the medical [work] in Detroit. They did a good job and it turned out to be good news for me … like, nothing serious. I've been skating [for] a couple days. I'm feeling good."

Anisimov, who has four goals and two assists in 15 games, is eager to get back into a game.

"I missed hockey a lot the past week," Anisimov said. "It's not [a] long time, but I miss it so much."

His coaches and teammates are happy to see him back showing no lingering effects.

"When you were there, saw the hit and saw him down … he was motionless," Richards said. "It was very concerning, especially with all these head injuries now and just the concern for it. I think you always anticipate these guys being out a lot longer, so it was great that he recovered quickly and is able to get back out on the ice."

Columbus forward Nick Foligno also is relieved.

"We're really happy that it wasn't anything as serious as it looked," Foligno told "I know he's happy to be back. It was obviously a scary thing for him, but I think he's ready to go."

The Blue Jackets are ready for Anisimov to get back in the lineup after losing top center Derick Brassard to an upper-body injury Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. Columbus will be without forward Brandon Dubinsky and defensemen Jack Johnson, James Wisniewski and John Moore.

"We've lost a few guys now to injuries, and it's unfortunate, but to get a guy back in the lineup like Artie, it's only going to help our team," Foligno said. "He fills a void for sure. We're looking forward to him making a big impact tonight."

Here is the lineup the Blue Jackets will likely use against the Blackhawks:

R.J. UmbergerRyan JohansenNick Foligno

Matt CalvertArtem AnisimovCam Atkinson

Colton GilliesDerek MacKenzieJared Boll

Vinny ProspalMark LetestuDerek Dorsett

Fedor TyutinNikita Nikitin

Tim ErixonAdrian Aucoin

Cody GoloubefDalton Prout

Steve Mason

Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratches: Nick Drazenovic, John Moore (upper body, left Friday morning skate early)

Injuries: Derick Brassard (day-to-day upper body), James Wisniewski (IR, out indefinitely, lower body), Jack Johnson (IR, out indefinitely, upper body), Brandon Dubinsky (IR, out indefinitely, lower body)

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