MacKenzie, Skille "ready to go" vs. Carolina
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards could only chuckle and shake his head when asked if he's ever seen a rash of injuries like his team has recently encountered.
Their 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers was an emotional high, for sure, but the two points came at a cost: the Blue Jackets lost Marian Gaborik to a broken collarbone early in the first period, and it happened while he was in the midst of setting up Ryan Johansen's game-opening goal. Matt Calvert left the game early with an upper body injury and while there has been no update on his status in the last 24 hours, Calvert will not travel with the team to Carolina.
Gaborik, who had missed the previous 17 games with a knee sprain, now has not only the remainder of his season in jeopardy, but also a chance to play for has native Slovakia in the upcoming Olympic Winter Games.
"I went back and talked to him after the first period (Saturday) and he seemed like he was in decent spirits," Richards said of Gaborik. "But I'm sure once it starts to settle in, the significance of the injury, obviously missing time here but also the work that he put in to come back and missing out on something that happens once every four years. You don't get many shots at that."
But there was some positive injury news on Sunday: Richards said both of Derek MacKenzie and Jack Skille appear ready to return to the lineup after brief absences and are expected to play Monday night in Raleigh.
"I've never been part of a team with the injuries like this...it's the length of some of these injuries, too," Richards said. "You're left scratching your head."
Other notes from Sunday's optional practice...
- Six players (MacKenzie, Skille, Erixon, Prout, Horton, McKenna) took part in the optional skate prior to the team's departure for Raleigh. Prout will not play Monday in Carolina and there is not a firm timetable for his return.
- How big will the addition of Nathan Horton be? Here's Richards' take: "To me, it's a lot more than (on ice). You've got a guy who's won a Stanley Cup, who's had success and part of a winning organization in Boston. When you look at the winning organizations, you like to replicate or do some of those same things. He can bring that...the consistency, professionalism."
- Horton, who has traveled with the team for over a month now, has assimilated with the group and Richards hopes it helps establish his voice in the room when he does make his debut. "You're going to need that, too...not only his play on the ice where he has an impact - and we'll see what that's going to be - he's missed a significant amount of time. He's worked hard, he's a prepared guy. He has a good understanding of what we want to do."
- On Sergei Bobrovsky, Richards said "he's starting to get on the ice and he's doing more and more." There's no timetable on his return, but the Blue Jackets are doing their due diligence and are going to be patient with his slow recovery from a groin strain.