The Columbus Blue Jackets could be getting a veteran forward back in time for game two of their best-of-seven Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center Saturday night.
After missing game one with an upper body injury, forward R.J. Umberger could be given the go-ahead from team doctors in time to play if all goes well during and after Friday's practice. And left winger Nick Foligno may return from his knee injury later in the series if he keeps progressing.
"Right now, Foligno won't be in the lineup Saturday," Columbus coach Todd Richards said following Thursday's optional skate. "We're hoping, possibly Monday for game three, and R.J., we're going to see how practice goes tomorrow. There's a possibility he could play in game two."
Umberger, one of only four current Blue Jackets -- along with defenseman Fedor Tyutin, center Derek MacKenzie and right winger Jared Boll -- who was a part of the organization when it last made the playoffs five years ago, is "working every day to get back."
"I think the team is playing well," Umberger said. "We've had a lot of adversity and been a resilient bunch. We've kind of been learning as we go with a lot of young guys gaining a lot of experience. It was a big step forward for them last game. I think they played hard, played well. Even though it was a pretty nice game, I think there's even more in our group."
If Umberger is able to return to the lineup Saturday, it would be a homecoming of sorts as the Pittsburgh native will try and even the series with his hometown Penguins. And the nine-year NHL veteran is focused strictly on business.
"Obviously, we wanted to win the first game and get off to a lead and a good start, but I think we got our feet wet and some confidence," Umberger said. "I think we know we can battle these guys hard and push this to a hard series. The next step is evening it up.
Boll added, "Saturday's a huge game for us. We want to go in there, win the game and take one in Pittsburgh. The guys are good. Obviously, it's a tough loss, but it's a long series. You've got to win four games. We have stuff we need to work on, and we'll move on from there.
"It was a good experience. For the guys who it was their first playoff game, it didn't look like it. They stepped up. They played well, just like they've been doing all year. They got that first one out of the way, and it's time to go after game two."