Columbus loses key pieces for playoff race

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

J.D. Low

   The Columbus Blue Jackets will have to play the foreseeable future without several key top-line players; Zach Werenski, Patrick Laine, and Nick Blankenburg.

   According to the Columbus Dispatch, “It’s a tough pill to swallow this morning, but you move by it,” Columbus head coach Brad Larsen said.

   On the blue line, they will miss their top pair, Nick Blankenburg partnered by assistant captain Zach Werenski. That group had already netted the Jackets 11 points in 20 combined games, eight of which came from Werenski.

   To fill in the holes on the roster, the Blue Jackets will call up several players from Columbus’ minor league affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters. In the defensive spots, Marcus Bjork, Gavin Bayruether, and David Jiricek will come from Cleveland.

   According to the Columbus Dispatch, “It’s an opportunity for some other guys to show, so we’re going to see what they have,” Larsen said.

   According to Fox Sports, at the forward position, the Jackets will be without Patrick Laine, who led the team in points per game last season, Jakub Voracek, who led the team in overall points last season, and Sean Kuraly, who had a career high of 30 points last season.

   “It’s hockey and it seems like it’s coming in waves with us right now with some key guys, but what do you do? You’ve just got to go play,” Larsen said.

   In net the Blue Jackets will miss starting goaltender Elvis Merzlikins as he suffered a lower body injury.

   According to SportsNet, “Merzlikins is expected to miss one-to-two weeks after he sustained a hip injury during the Blue Jackets’ 5-4 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers this past Tuesday”.

   In replace of the injured Merzlikins, the Blue Jackets have recalled goalie Daniil Tarsov from the Monsters, and placed backup goaltender Joonas Korpisalo in the starting role. Korpisalo, who is in his eighth season with Columbus, is back after a half season stint on the Blue Jackets injured reserve. Korpisalo has helped boost Columbus’ record, which is currently 7-10-1 overall, with a 3-1-1 record in his short run with the Blue Jackets this season according to Elite Prospects.

   According to The 1st Ohio Battery, “Just the whole summer I was waiting to get back into it and show them what I have,” Korpisalo said.