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Blue Jackets without Umberger for Game 6

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards might have been thinking of how he'll match up with the Pittsburgh Penguins later Monday night in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round series when he committed a slip of the tongue: He actually revealed why left wing RJ Umberger would not play Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT) at Nationwide Arena instead of giving the "upper body" or "lower body" answer standard during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Shoulder, sorry, not feeling great … a little slip there," he said to laughter by the media. "Not feeling great, not 100 percent."

Richards regained his footing to not reveal the injury that will also keep defenseman Nikita Nikitin out of the lineup. There are no other changes expected.

Umberger, a Pittsburgh native, missed Game 1 with a variety of upper-body ailments and had one assist in the next four games.

He will be replaced by Jared Boll when the Blue Jackets try to even the best-of-7 series at 3-3. Game 7, if needed, will be Wednesday in Pittsburgh at Consol Energy Center.

In Umberger's absence, right wing Blake Comeau moves from the fourth line to the third, and will play alongside center Artem Anisimov and left wing Nick Foligno.

Boll, who has not played since Game 1, will be aligned with center Mark Letestu and left wing Derek MacKenzie.

Richards did not alter the top two lines, but that may change based on what the Penguins do with stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, neither of whom has a goal in the series.

Columbus center Brandon Dubinsky has done a good job dogging Crosby but in Game 5 Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma put Crosby and Malkin on the same line with Chris Kunitz, and Bylsma said he would do likewise in Game 6.

"It does pose some difficulties as far as matchups," Richards said.

It can almost be a no-win situation, Richards noted, if Malkin and Crosby are on different lines.

"When you do have them apart you have two world-class players," he said. "One's out on the ice, one's resting. One comes off and the other one's right back on."

Though Richards hopes not to jumble his top lines, he has made changes on the defense. Nick Schultz comes in for Nikitin and will pair with James Wisniewski.

Rookie Ryan Murray goes from playing with Wisniewski to partnering with David Savard. Jack Johnson and Fedor Tyutin will be the other unit.

"I'm just trying to get three good pairs. That's all it is," Richards said.

The Blue Jackets allowed 51 shots (including an empty-net goal) and had 24 in losing 3-1 in Game 5, and know they must be better at both ends.

"We got away from our game a little bit," Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson said. "We know what we're capable of.

"We're going to start out strong, play our game, pressure them and we'll have success. We've got to play with the puck. We clearly didn't have enough time in the offensive zone."

Here are the projected lineups:


Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Jack Skille

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Nick Foligno - Artem Anisimov - Blake Comeau

Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu - Jared Boll

Ryan Murray - David Savard

Nick Schultz - James Wisniewski

Jack Johnson - Fedor Tyutin

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Matt Frattin, Corey Tropp

Injured: RJ Umberger (shoulder), Nikita Nikitin (undisclosed), Nathan Horton (abdominal surgery)


Chris KunitzSidney CrosbyLee Stempniak

Jussi JokinenEvgeni MalkinJames Neal

Beau BennettBrandon SutterJoe Vitale

Tanner GlassMarcel GocCraig Adams

Matt NiskanenOlli Maatta

Kris LetangPaul Martin

Robert BortuzzoRob Scuderi

Marc-Andre Fleury

Jeff Zatkoff

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