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Dubinsky, Murray return to Blue Jackets practice

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- There were two numbers of interest among the media attending Columbus Blue Jackets practice Tuesday: 17 and 27.

Those numerals belonged to center Brandon Dubinsky and rookie defenseman Ryan Murray, respectively. They happened to be the two uninjured players who were given maintenance days Monday by coach Todd Richards while the rest of the Blue Jackets prepared to open their Eastern Conference First Round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, NBCSN).

There was speculation Murray might be ailing a bit after he sat out the regular-season finale Saturday at the Florida Panthers because he only recently returned from missing a month following arthroscopic knee surgery. Dubinsky had a gimpy knee from a collision in the Florida game.

But Murray and Dubinsky joined their teammates in a vigorous workout Tuesday in the practice facility adjacent to Nationwide Arena. A few aches and pains won't keep them out of the lineup.

"I had some opportunity to take some time off the ice, so I took advantage of it," Murray said. "At this point of the season you've got to get ready no matter what. I feel good. I'm ready to go."

Dubinsky was back in his usual spot between Matt Calvert on the left and Cam Atkinson, but Richards has had to juggle the other lines because of injuries in the past two weeks.

Forward Nathan Horton is likely out for the entire postseason following abdominal surgery last week, but the news is better for forwards RJ Umberger (upper body) and Nick Foligno (lower body).

Richards said they would not play Wednesday.

"They're feeling better," he said. "There is the possibility they could play on Saturday (in Game 2)."

The Blue Jackets could use their experience because they are one of the youngest teams in the NHL and have made the playoffs twice in 13 seasons, the other being a sweep by the Detroit Red Wings in 2009.

"We've talked to some guys in here who've played in some playoff games," rookie left wing Boone Jenner said. "We know it's going to be a lot more intense."

Jenner was on a line with Ryan Johansen, the 21-year-old center who led Columbus with 33 goals this season, and Jack Skille.

The third line consisted of Derek MacKenzie, Artem Anisimov and Blake Comeau left to right, and the other unit had Mark Letestu centering Corey Tropp and Jared Boll.

Murray and James Wisniewski made one defensive pair. Fedor Tyutin and Jack Johnson formed another, and Nikita Nikitin and David Savard rounded out the group in front of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

The Blue Jackets recalled goalie Jeremy Smith from Springfield of the American Hockey League to give Bobrovsky and backup Curtis McElhinney rest at practice when needed.

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