The Blue Jackets held their final open practice of the season today, in advance of Friday's game in Nashville and the home finale against Buffalo this Saturday.
Tom Reed of the Dispatch was at the practice to share news on Twitter, and much of it was not pleasant.
Nash Out - We'll start with the bad news, in hopes of making the rest seem a bit more encouraging: Rick Nash, plagued with what Reed referred to as a "lingering back injury" since the Florida game, will not play in the final two games of the season. If the injury is serious enough, it seems entirely possible that Nash could also miss the World Championships with Team Canada, disappointing all 20 people who watch the World Championships.
Falconry - The team has assigned both Tomas Kubalik and David LeNeveu to Springfield, where they will finish the season, as Andrew Murray, Chris Clark, and Steve Mason returned to practice today and were dubbed healthy. (Mason, in fact, is projected to start against Nashville tomorrow.) Kubalik was on an injury callup, so it makes sense to return him, but I almost would have rather seen him finish the year in Columbus vs giving two more games to a player (or players) who are unlikely to return to the team.
Out of Juice? - Kristian Huselius was absent from practice. The Swedish winger had played in two games since his return from a high ankle sprain. It seems likely that this was maintenance day, or else the team would likely have kept Kubalik in town, but it's still concerning to see another offensive player, even a rather frustrating one, on the shelf.
Lined Paper: With the news on Nash, the reassignments, and Juice's absence, it's doubtful these are the actual lines for this weekend's games, but some interesting combinations. The top line of Umberger, Voracek, and Brassard are unchanged, but Andrew Murray lined up with Calvert and Vermette, Upshall, Pahlsson, and Dorsett remained a unit, and Clark and Boll flanked Derek MacKenzie.
Frozen Four - The NCAA men's hockey finals start today in St. Paul, MN, where CBJ prospects Matt Rust and Kevin Lynch will play for the Michigan Wolverines against top ranked North Dakota tonight at 8:30.
It looks like the end of the season isn't going to be a fun one, but at least the "good" news is that it's here, and soon the work of clearing away the debris and starting fresh can begin.