Busy Day Before Blue Jackets/Bolts

There’s been enough news today to leave Blue Jackets fans dizzy, and that’s even before Columbus skates in their first meeting with Tampa Bay since sweeping the Lightning out of last year’s playoffs.

Most notably, there was the word that defenseman Seth Jones suffered a fracture and ankle sprain during a sliding collision with the net in a 2-1 loss to the Avalanche.

Jones will have surgery, and GM Jarmo Kekalainen told The Athletic (subscription required) that, “He’s out for a while.”

Incredibly, it’s not the first time this year the Jackets have lost an All-Star for an extended period of time. Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo is still out with his knee injury.

Elvis Merzlikins has more than capably filled in, and in another piece of news today, it was announced that Merzlikins was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week after stopping 68 of 70 of the shots he faced in three games (2-1-0), which included two shutouts.

He will be in net again tonight, but there will be other changes. In addition to Scott Harrington going into the lineup for Jones, Cam Atkinson is banged up and so will need a replacement. As a result, the club has called up their 2018 first-round draft pick, Liam Foudy.

“You don’t expect these kind of things,” the forward told the media this morning of making his NHL debut this evening. “Speed’s always been my biggest thing, so I’m going to try to use that to the best of my ability tonight, and try to have an impact on the game like that.”

Foudy has 20 goals and 23 assists in 32 games with the London Knights this season.

The Lightning will be without Steven Stamkos, and although coach Jon Cooper joked that it was a courtesy being shown to the Blue Jackets for skating without Jones, the truth is Stamkos (26-33-59) has sustained a lower-body injury that has him listed as day-to-day.

Finally, one piece of off-ice news for Columbus: the team is bringing aboard former Wild GM Paul Fenton to do some part-time scouting for them.

The Blue Jackets and Lightning meet at 7:30 p.m. and the game is being televised on NBCSN. The radio broadcast is, of course, on 97.1 The Fan.

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