Pregame: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Carolina Hurricanes


In the Columbus Blue Jackets’ next-to-last preseason game tonight, they take on a familiar opponent in the Carolina Hurricanes. The Jackets and the Canes have already met once this season, when the Jackets away-team split squad went down to Raleigh for the first preseason game this year, a game which the Jackets won 4-3.

Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Things look a little different for both teams this time around. The lineups have changed, due both to roster cuts and injuries, and the Jackets will have their full squad available for the game at Nationwide Arena tonight.

And by “full squad”, I mean everyone who has signed a contract and isn’t hurt, which is a number dwindling by the day. The Jackets won’t see any action tonight from Boone Jenner, who is out with a broken hand suffered in practice earlier in training camp. Also missing from the lineup will be Nathan Horton, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Murray.

Murray and Dubinsky have been skating and participating in practices, although they will not be in the lineup for the game tonight. There hasn’t been an expected date of return for either of them yet, but the hopes are they will be healthy and ready to go for the start of the regular season.

The same can’t really be said for Nathan Horton. He is out due to complications from a degenerative back condition, and according to Jarmo Kekalainen, “(He) is the only person that really knows where he is at and how much pain there is involved. It’s impossible for anybody else to know what he is going through right now. He is suffering.”

Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

With the Jackets currently lacking the scoring power of Ryan Johansen, missing Horton and Dubinsky isn’t a good look going forward. But for tonight’s game, it might open up the roster and give the young players a chance to show the coaching staff what they can do before the final roster cuts are made.

Of those who have a chance to show off tonight are Marko Dano, Michael Chaput and Simon Hjalmarsson up front. All three players are fighting for a spot on the Jackets’ roster for the regular season, and these injuries have opened up some critical roster spots for these young players.

In the absence of Nathan Horton on the right wing, the Jackets’ top forward line now consists of Scott Hartnell, Artem Anisimov and Marko Dano. For Dano, that’s a pretty nice spot to be for a player who played only 10 games in the AHL last year. Missing Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky at center opened a spot for Alexander Wennberg to play on the Jackets’ second line and Michael Chaput at center on the fourth line for tonight.

More from Blue Jackets News

Hopefully the injuries and contract disputes won’t prove to be a problem long-term for the Jackets, but for tonight look at them as an opportunity. An opportunity to see what the future holds for the Jackets, and find out which players are likely to survive the next round of roster cuts. After all, that’s what preseason is for, right?