Blue Jackets notebook: Fedor Tyutin’s injury widens holes on defense

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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The Blue Jackets won’t resume their playoff push for another four days, but they already have suffered a costly loss.

Veteran defenseman Fedor Tyutin suffered an ankle injury while playing for host Russia during the Olympics last week and is expected to miss two to three weeks of the season’s crucial final stretch.

The injury left the Blue Jackets with only four healthy defensemen yesterday, though James Wisniewski (broken pinkie toe) is expected to resume skating on his own today.

In 53 games, a steady and savvy Tyutin averaged more than 21 minutes of ice time while playing on the top defensive pair with Jack Johnson. He ranks second among the club’s defensemen in assists (20) and points (24) and has a plus-6 rating.

Rostislav Klesla (515 games) is the only defenseman to have played more games for the Jackets than Tyutin (409).

“You want everybody to come back healthy, but we’ve got to be able to deal with it,” said Blue Jackets associate coach Craig Hartsburg, who has handled the team while coach Todd Richards is in Sochi with the U.S. Olympic team.

“It’s a crucial time to not have him, but others are going to have to step up,” Hartsburg said. “As a group, they’re going to have to be better.”

The Jackets likely will recall multiple defensemen from minor-league Springfield. Dalton Prout, Cody Goloubef and Tim Erixon have played for the Jackets this season and are the likeliest candidates.

Prout was a surprise standout during the Blue Jackets’ stretch run last season, but groin, shoulder and back injuries limited his effectiveness in 27 games this season, and he was reassigned to Springfield last month.

“He’s probably ready to come back and be the player that we saw last season,” Hartsburg said.

Defenseman David Savard said Tyutin’s injury leaves “big shoes to fill” but said whoever is recalled is capable of doing so.

“Those guys have been here and know what it takes, and (Prout) came in last year and did a great job,” Savard said. “Things went a little different for him this year, but he’s still the same player that he was.”

The loss of Tyutin also could modify the Jackets’ plan for the March 5 trade deadline. John Davidson, the team’s president of hockey operations, was in Springfield this weekend but expects to discuss deadline strategy with general manager Jarmo Kekalainen this week.

The Jackets will play the first of their final 24 games on Thursday at New Jersey.

smitchell@dispatch.com

@smitchcd

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