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At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Devils

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Anton Forsberg is expected to make his NHL debut Saturday against the New Jersey Devils.

While the Devils spent the morning off the ice, the Blue Jackets had an optional skate and a majority of the players participated. The Blue Jackets arrived in Newark late Friday after losing at home Friday to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Left wing Corey Tropp, who had to exit the game Friday when he became ill in the third period, did not make the trip and likely will be replaced in the lineup by forward Brian Gibbons. There was hope that forward Matt Calvert would be able to return to the lineup after sitting out the past three games with an upper-body injury, but he did not make the trip to New Jersey.

"I'll just try to provide some speed and energy; I have some fresh legs since some of these guys played [Friday]," Gibbons said. "I'll just try and play a fast, hard game and keep it simple."

Forsberg, 21, was recalled Oct. 28 from Springfield of the American Hockey League after starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky sustained a broken finger. Forsberg was a 2011 seventh-round pick (No. 188) by the Blue Jackets. He is 1-2-0 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in three games with Springfield this season. Goalie Curtis McElhinney, who should serve as backup against the Devils, allowed four goals on 27 shots in the loss to the Maple Leafs.

"It's a great opportunity for [Forsberg]," forward Nick Foligno said. "I'm sure he's going to be excited and we're happy for him and just want to see him go in there and do what he does. He's a really good goaltender and we have full confidence in all our goalies so it's a matter of us doing well in front of him."

Scott Hartnell, who is second on the Blue Jackets with 10 points (one goal, nine assists), said his team has yet to play a complete 60-minute game.

"It's on us," he said. "We need to execute and work our tails off for 60 minutes."

Like Foligno, Hartnell said he's excited to see Forsberg make his NHL debut.

"I think it's neat because everyone remembers their first NHL game, where it was, how you played," Hartnell said. "The guys in front of him will want to play that much harder for him to get that win. We have to score some goals and play hard because scoring one or two lately hasn't been enough."

The one positive for the team has been the play of center Ryan Johansen, who has at least one point in all 10 Blue Jackets games to open the season. His career-long point streak includes five goals and 13 points.

However, the Blue Jackets have struggled to overcome an injury-depleted lineup. Columbus has lost four straight and has been outscored 18-6 over that stretch.

The good news is that Foligno (neck) returned to the lineup against the Maple Leafs and skated on the second line with center Alexander Wennberg and right wing Jack Skille. The bad news is that the team remains without Bobrovsky, Nathan Horton (back), Boone Jenner (broken hand), Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal surgery), Matt Calvert (upper body), James Wisniewski (fractured finger), Mark Letestu (groin) and Artem Anisimov (concussion).

"The injuries have made things harder but it gives other guys opportunities to step up and develop and it'll help later in the year when guys are healthy," Gibbons said.

Hartnell knows how tough the Devils are on home ice. The Devils are 5-0-2 all-time on home ice against the Blue Jackets.

"The Devils are very stingy and hard to get to the net; you have to wear them down and make them go 200 feet," Hartnell said. "If you turn the puck over, [Jaromir] Jagr and those guys wheel and deal, so you have to be smart with the puck."

Here are the projected lineups:


Scott Hartnell - Ryan Johansen - Cam Atkinson

Nick Foligno - Alexander Wennberg - Jack Skille

Brian Gibbons - Michael Chaput - Marko Dano

Sean Collins - Adam Cracknell - Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson

Tim Erixon - Dalton Prout

Ryan Murray - David Savard

Anton Forsberg

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Cody Goloubef

Injured: Artem Anisimov (concussion), Matt Calvert (upper body), Nathan Horton (back), Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal surgery), Mark Letestu (groin), James Wisniewski (fractured finger), Sergei Bobrovsky (fractured finger), Boone Jenner (broken left hand), Corey Tropp (illness)


Ryane Clowe - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr

Dainius Zubrus - Patrik Elias - Damien Brunner

Reid Boucher - Adam Henrique - Michael Ryder

Tuomo Ruutu - Jacob Josefson - Stephen Gionta

Andy Greene - Damon Severson

Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky

Adam Larsson - Jon Merrill

Cory Schneider

Scott Clemmensen

Scratched: Eric Gelinas

Injured: Mike Cammalleri (jaw), Martin Havlat (lower body), Jordin Tootoo (foot)

Status report: The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Jenner and Bobrovsky could return to the lineup within a week. … If Schneider starts Saturday it would be his 11th straight and would match his career high; he started 11 straight between March 9 and April 8, 2013 and went 9-2-0 with a 1.29 goals-against average, .954 save percentage and four shutouts.

Who's hot: Severson leads all rookie defensemen with four goals and seven points … Hartnell has one goal and six points in the past five games.


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