The Columbus Blue Jackets got their first goal of the Stanley Cup playoffs from Alexander Wennberg. However, the Swedish forward has been missing from the lineup after suffering a head injury from a controversial Tom Wilson check in Game 1 against the Washington Capitals.
Wennberg missed the next two games and was listed as day-to-day, but there is some good news coming out of Friday’s practice.
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 20, 2018
Alexander Wennberg Practices
The Stockholm native skated in Friday’s practice at Nationwide Arena. He did not practice with a particular line, so he may not be ready to return according to The Athletic’s Alison Lukan.
— Alison (@AlisonL) April 20, 2018
The lineup sheet showed that there wasn’t a spot for Wennberg. However, that can change between now and the 5 p.m. Saturday puck drop. The line sheet showed Thomas Vanek had been moved to the fourth line.
Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella was mum on Wennberg’s status for Saturday’s game. Wennberg is likely to be a game-time decision.
The 23-year-old scored six goals and dished out 27 assists for 33 points in 66 games this season. He also totalled 12 penalty minutes in 2017-18. Wennberg had a Corsi of 53.7 and a relative Corsi of 2.6.
What This Means For The Series
The Blue Jackets offence has been hit-and-miss without Wennberg. Columbus took the opening two games in D.C., but Wennberg’s return is just what they need.
Tortorella has reshuffled the lines in the wake of Wennberg’s absence, but have not clicked. Players like Sonny Milano have looked fatigued with the strain of a long season starting to take its toll. Wennberg looked at home with Boone Jenner and Vanek to combine on that first goal.
The return of the 14th overall pick from the 2013 NHL draft by the Blue Jackets would be a big boost to the offence. Columbus will need all the help it can get in a tight series.
PITTSBURGH, PA – APRIL 14: Columbus Blue Jackets center Alexander Wennberg (10) skates with the puck during the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 4-1 in Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 14, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)