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Blue Jackets' Murray returning against Maple Leafs

by Craig Merz /

MAPLE LEAFS (30-43-7) AT BLUE JACKETS (39-35-5)


COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets will have four more injured players out of the lineup Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; SN, FS-O).

But second-year defenseman Ryan Murray will not be one of them. Instead he'll play his 11th game in his fourth return from injury this season.

"I feel like I've done this too many times, answering these questions," he said with a smile after the morning skate.

The Blue Jackets see Murray as a future anchor on their defense, but he's been injury prone since being selected with the second pick of the 2012 NHL Draft.

After being drafted, surgery to repair a shoulder injury limited Murray to 23 games with Everett of the Western Hockey League in 2012-13.

As a Blue Jackets rookie last season he played 66 games but missed a month because of arthroscopic surgery on his knee; he returned to play in five games in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs but after the season he had another surgery on his knee.

He missed the first seven games this season while recovering from the offseason surgery, played four games and then sat out 36 games because of complications from the knee surgery. Upon his return he played three games when an ankle injury kept him out 17 games. He played three more games before another ankle injury kept him out the past nine games.

"You can't look back, dwell on it," he said. "It's unfortunate. That's the word I've been using. Things could be better but things could be worse."

Despite there being three games left in the season, Murray said he didn't consider not returning.

"It takes some momentum into the offseason," he said.

Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said he expects Murray to quickly get back into the pace of the game.

"I'm not worried about that," Richards said. "He's proven that too many times this year when he's been injured and come back."

Neither the Blue Jackets nor the Maple Leafs (30-43-7) will qualify for the playoffs but they have been playing well of late. Columbus is 9-0-1 in the past 10 games. Toronto is 3-1-1 in the past five and trying to take some positive vibes into the offseason.

"There's a lot of guys you can build a team around," center Tyler Bozak said. "The young guys that have come up at the end of the year have done a great job as well."

Toronto has won both games against Columbus this season, and the line of Bozak, James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel has a combined 10 points in the two games, and has been productive recently.

"They've been pushing hard to create a lot of offense," Toronto interim coach Peter Horachek said. "They've been pushing to get us in position to do the things we want to do."

Here are the projected lineups:


James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel.

Joakim Lindstrom - Nazem Kadri - Richard Panik

Leo Komarov - Peter Holland - Joffrey Lupul

David Booth - Zach Sill - Casey Bailey

Eric Brewer - Dion Phaneuf

Jake Gardiner - Morgan Rielly

Andrew MacWilliam - Tim Erixon

James Reimer

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Brandon Kozun

Injured: Nathan Horton (back), Stephane Robidas (shoulder), Roman Polak (sports hernia), Trevor Smith (upper body)


Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Cam Atkinson

Brandon Dubinsky - Artem Anisimov - Nick Foligno

Scott Hartnell - Alexander Wennberg - Marko Dano

Matt Calvert - Mark Letestu - Jeremy Morin

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Justin Falk - Dalton Prout

Ryan Murray - Cody Goloubef

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Corey Tropp, Jared Boll, Kevin Connauton

Injured: David Clarkson (oblique), Jack Skille (shoulder), Rene Bourque (back), Fedor Tyutin (undisclosed)

Status report: Falk will play his second straight game for the injured Tyutin. … Connauton will be a healthy scratch with the return of Murray. … Bernier is scheduled to be the starter in the season finale against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

Who's hot: van Riemsdyk has goals in three straight games and six points in his past five. … Rielly has one goal and three assists in the past six games. … Dubinsky has three goals and four assists in a five-game points streak. … Columbus has 40 goals in the past 10 games.

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