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Blue Jackets going for nine, could be without Savard

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- There hasn't been need to change a successful lineup, not with a team-record eight-game winning streak, but the Columbus Blue Jackets could be without one of their unsung players Saturday against the visiting Buffalo Sabres if defenseman David Savard is out due to illness.

He was the only Columbus player not at the morning skate and coach Todd Richards said it will be a game-time decision for the 23-year-old from St. Hyacinthe, Quebec.

Defenseman Cody Goloubef was recalled under emergency conditions from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League because the Blue Jackets had no extra defensemen on the roster.

Goloubef, the nephew of Hockey Hall of Fame forward Dick Duff, has played 12 NHL games and scored his lone goal Feb. 11, 2013, against the San Jose Sharks. This season for the Falcons he has six goals, 14 assists and a plus-9 rating in 41 games.

Losing Savard would be a blow for the Blue Jacket (26-20-4). He entered the season as the seventh or eighth defenseman but has teamed with Nikita Nikitin to form a lockdown pair. Savard has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) and is fourth on the team with a plus-6.

The Sabres (13-29-7), 0-3-2 in the past five games, will make a change on defense with the call-up of Chad Ruhwedel from the Rochester Americans (AHL). He will replace Alexander Sulzer.

Ruhwedel led all Americans defensemen with four goals and 17 points and has seven NHL games with Buffalo to his credit, all coming in April 2013, with no points.

"One thing about him is he can skate," Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said. "We need a good puck-moving defenseman. Everybody looks for him.

"He's really worked on that part of his game. He's very quick. He makes that first pass. That's exactly what we want him to do here."

The game Saturday will be third and final this season between Columbus' Nick Foligno and his younger brother, Marcus. Both are left wings.

Columbus won the first two meetings in Buffalo, 4-1 on Oct. 10 and 4-3 in a shootout a week ago, but that's not what they discussed when Marcus visited Nick and his wife, Janelle, on Friday evening.

Marcus got to see his three-month-old niece, Milana, for the first time. The baby was born with a heart defect and had to undergone corrective surgery in November, causing Nick Foligno to miss several games to be with his family.

"He took off from hockey because it was life-threatening," Marcus said. "It was a huge decision they had to make. It played a lot in his head and his wife's for sure, but they're strong people. It's great now that (Milana) is doing better."

Marcus is thrilled by the new role he'll have with his niece.

"Nick can be the disciplinarian," he said. "I can be the uncle who comes in and gives her anything she wants. I'm going to be the uncle that spoils her."

Here are the projected lineups for Buffalo at Columbus:


Matt Moulson - Linus Omark - Drew Stafford

Steve Ott - Cody Hodgson - Zemgus Girgensons

Marcus Foligno - Philip Varone - Brian Flynn

Ville Leino - Zenon Konopka - Matt Ellis

Christian Ehrhoff - Chad Ruhwedel

Henrik Tallinder - Tyler Myers

Mike Weber - Jamie McBain

Ryan Miller

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Alexander Sulzer, Linus Omark, John Scott

Injured: Cody McCormick (upper body), Matt D'Agostini (upper body)


Nick Foligno - Ryan Johansen - RJ Umberger

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Boone Jenner - Artem Anisimov - Nathan Horton

Mark Letestu - Derek MacKenzie - Corey Tropp

Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson

Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski

Nikita Nikitin - David Savard

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Cody Bass, Cody Goloubef

Injured: Marian Gaborik (broken collarbone), Jared Boll (ankle surgery), Blake Comeau (knee sprain)

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