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Blue Jackets place Bobrovsky on injured reserve

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS –- Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, the 2012-13 Vezina Trophy winner, will miss four to five weeks with groin strain, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

Bobrovsky was injured early in the third period of a 1-0 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday when he did the splits while making a glove save on T.J. Brown.

Backup Curtis McElhinney becomes the No. 1 goalie with Mike McKenna, called up Wednesday from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League, behind him.

McElhinney has played eight of 28 games and has a 1-3-1 record, a 2.34 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.

“It’s a great opportunity for myself and for the team as well,” McElhinney said. “We’ve been looking to get on a run and hopefully I can help them do that.”

Bobrovsky is 10-11-2 with a 2.72 GAA and .909 save percentage after leading the Blue Jackets to within a point of the Western Conference playoffs last season when he was 21-11-6, 2.00, .932 and four shutouts in 38 games.

Unclear is how Bobrovsky's injury could affect his status with the Russia for the 2014 Sochi Olympics that begins in early February.

Coach Todd Richards said the fact that McElhinney has appeared in just over a quarter of the games in his first season with the Blue Jackets gives the team confidence.

“He’s played games. He’s had reps. He’s had shots,” Richards said. “I don’t think it will change differently how our guys are going prepare or how they play. There might be a little bit of difference in styles compared to Bob and Curtis but we’re not going into games thinking about, ‘I have to change’ or, ‘I have to do something different.’ ”

McElhinney has played 77 games in the NHL in six seasons with the Calgary Flames, Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators, Phoenix Coyotes and Blue Jackets.

“I’ve gained experience over the years and know that my role is to be ready at all times,” McElhinney said.

That’s why Richards thinks McElhinney will keep the Blue Jackets (11-14-3) in the playoff hunt until Bobrovsky returns.

“He’s been in this position before and knows how to act,” Richards said. “He’s a professional.”

McKenna has some experience as well, 17 games in NHL (4-9-1, 3.49, .887) with the Lightning and New Jersey Devils. He was 6-2-0, 1.45 and .943 for the Falcons this season and was named the AHL’s Goaltender of the Month for November (4-1-0, 1.16, .950).

“My mindset is to always play the best I can wherever I am,” he said. “When you look at a season, there’s usually injuries at some point.”

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