Columbus Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets Pregame Notebook: Savard Returns to Face Senators

(Bennett Cohen/Icon Sportswire)

COLUMBUS — Though they have points in seven of their last eight games, the good news keeps coming for the Columbus Blue Jackets, who will have a blue line boost as defenseman David Savard returns to the lineup tonight against the Ottawa Senators.

Savard, who has missed the last 11 games with an oblique injury, said he is “100 percent ready to play,” which is a good thing, considering head coach John Tortorella said he would not be easing the defenseman back into the lineup tonight.

“I don’t buy into the easing into it,” Tortorella said. “He’s going to play. Yes, there will be rust and he will make some mistakes, but he’s going to play.”

Savard is expected to play alongside long-time defensive partner Jack Johnson, who is looking forward to having his teammate back.

“We’ve had a lot of fun playing together,” Johnson said. “It’s always fun to get one of the regular guys back in the lineup and he’s a great player. It makes it easy playing with great players.”

With Savard back in the lineup, young defenseman Cody Goloubef will be the odd man out. Head coach John Tortorella said that though Goloubef has bounced back well since he missed 19 games earlier this season, it is just the decision has to make to get Savard back in.

“Cody played his best game since he’s been back the other night,” Tortorella said. “He’s [not out] due to play—it’s just the role he’s in right now. I want to get Savard back in. We consider him one of our top four, so Cody comes out now.”

Other notes from this morning’s pregame skate:

  • The Blue Jackets are loving life at home, as they improved to 6-3-2 in their last 11 home games with Thursday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks. With the win, they also improved to 10-5-5 in their last 20 home games. Tortorella said that their play at home has been a huge part of the team finding their identity since he came on as head coach.

“We have been talking quite a bit this year about our whole team identity and what [kind of team] we are going to be,” Tortorella said. “Part of that identity is how you play at home and what teams expect when they come into our building. I think we scratched the surface a little bit the other night with the way we played against Anaheim. For us to correct the [standings] situation, we have to be better and harder as a hockey club, especially at home.”

  • With rookie goaltender Joonas Korpisalo playing so well—he’s 7-1-2 in his last 10 starts with a 1.94 goals-against average and .942 save percentage—the Blue Jackets have not played their other young goaltender Anton Forsberg in weeks. Tortorella said that though he has thought of what that means for Forsberg from a development standpoint, the Blue Jackets have to play their best goaltender if they want to win games.

“We’re trying to win every game and Korpi is our best one,” Tortorella said. “We are going to field the best team we can. With the goaltending situation, we want to win. We are going to win when we have our best goalie in. It’s not a surprise when your goalie is playing as well as he is that you’re finding ways to get points.”

  • Though the Senators have won five of the last six games against the Blue Jackets in their all-time series, Tortorella said he is not as concerned about scouting the opposition as he is about making sure his team sticks to their own game and style.

“We really don’t spend much time [scouting the other team] because we have enough things going on in our house,” Tortorella said. “I don’t think the game is that difficult. You have to execute your own game.”

However, Tortorella did have a brief scouting report on the Senators.

“A few games ago, I think they had two games scoring five or six goals” Tortorella said. “They have some explosive players there. Obviously, you have to watch for No. 65 [defenseman Erik Karlsson].”

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