CHICAGO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have lost another integral part of their starting lineup after defenseman Jack Johnson was put on injured reserve Sunday morning.
Johnson is currently listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury after being injured in the first period of a 2-1 loss on Saturday night in St. Louis. The Blue Jackets (5-11-2) will be the next team trying to give the Chicago Blackhawks (14-0-3) their first regulation loss in a game that starts at 7 p.m. on Sunday night at United Center.
Johnson, who’d been playing on the second pairing with Adrian Aucoin, missed a couple of shifts toward the end of the first period against the Blues on Saturday night, then tried to play at the start of the
second. He left the ice 6:47 into the second and didn’t return.
The Blue Jackets, who are also without forwards Brandon Dubinsky (knee sprain) and Artem Anisimov (upper-body), recalled forward Ryan Johansen from Springfield of the American Hockey League on Sunday morning to take Johnson’s place.
"There's two ways you can look at it," Blue Jackets veteran forward Vinny Prospal said. "One way, it's tough to replace somebody like Jack. On the other hand, it's an opportunity for someone to step in
and, not necessarily play the minutes he plays, but fill the role he's got a little bit with this club. He plays quite a bit of time out there, so OI don't think it's going to be just one person who is going to step up and take his minutes."
Johnson, who was averaging 26:13 a game of ice time, had one goal and seven assists in 17 games prior to the injury. The only other defenseman on the active roster is 22-year old John Moore, who has one assist in 11 games. Moore, Columbus’ No.1 pick (No.21 overall) in the 2009 NHL Draft, has also missed four games while injured and sat the previous two games.
"Maybe players that have not been playing maybe as much time or have been out of the lineup are going to get a chance to play," Prospal said.
The 20-year old Johansen had two assists in 10 games with the Blue Jackets before being reassigned on Feb. 6 to Springfield. Johansen, the Blue Jackets’ No.4 overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, scored 17 goals with 16 assists in 40 AHL games this season.
“I felt like I was struggling offensively the last few games [before being sent down]," Johansen said. "I was doing really well in the first five games, creating lots of stuff, and then it seemed like I couldn’t really generate any offense in the last few games before I got sent down. I really wanted to go down and feel comfortable with the puck again, making plays. I felt like I did that. I did really good down there and had some good games. I’m happy to be back up and it’s a good challenge tonight in Chicago."
Johansen said he is playing against the Blackhawks and will center the third line between Matt Calvert and Nick Foligno. Columbus also recalled forward Nick Drazenovic from Springfield on Saturday, but it's unclear whether he will also draw into the lineup.
As for the Blackhawks, second-line center Dave Bolland left Friday night’s 2-1 win against the San Jose Sharks with an upper-body injury after two periods and didn’t return for the third. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said on Sunday afternoon that Bolland will not play and is listed "day-to-day."
Fourth-line center Marcus Kruger will bump up to play between Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane on the second line to start out, while the third line of Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg will stay intact. Kruger double shifted after Bolland left Friday's game, centering both the fourth line and the second forward unit.
“We don’t want to change up too much," Quenneville said. "I think either [Kruger] or [Shaw] could probably play [with Sharp and Kane], but I think the consistency and balance on lines and the job they did last game, when paired together, was pretty good.”
Veteran Jamal Mayers could enter the lineup to center the fourth line, which will again have Daniel Carcillo at left wing for the second straight game since returning from a knee sprain that held him out 15 games.
Here is how the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks might line up on Sunday night:
R.J. Umberger – Derick Brassard – Cam Atkinson
Vinny Prospal – Mark Letestu – Derek Dorsett
Matt Calvert – Ryan Johansen – Nick Foligno
Colton Gillies – Derek MacKenzie – Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin – Nikita Nikitin
Tim Erixson – Adrian Aucoin
John Moore – James Wisniewski
Scratches: Nick Drazenovic, Sean Collins
Injuries: Artem Anisimov (upper body), Jack Johnson (IR upper body),
Brandon Dubinsky (IR lower body, knee)
Brandon Saad – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp – Marcus Kruger– Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell – Andrew Shaw – Viktor Stalberg
Daniel Carcillo – Jamal Mayers – Michael Frolik
Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson – Johnny Oduya
Nick Leddy – Michal Rozsival
Scratches: Brandon Bollig, Sheldon Brookbank
Injuries: Dave Bolland (upper body, day-to-day), Steve Montador (IR upper body)