Just in yesterday's Ramblings I discussed how Elvis Merzilikins had re-joined the Columbus Blue Jackets and could be ready to make a return. Well, that didn't really happen as he was put on the injured reserve on Thursday morning. It has been seven days since his last game and this was about clearing some room for other players, given the injuries elsewhere. That all means even though he's technically on the IR, he could return anytime this weekend. It just kind of stunned me to see him moved there when he looked to be close to returning, but it really does seem to make sense.
On the blue line for the Jackets, Zach Werenski was out for Thursday night's game against Florida with Adam Boqvist taking top PP duties.
Another important line change was Ondrej Kase being moved to the second line in Toronto, with Alex Kerfoot being bumped down. Not to dance on a grave here, but I cannot believe it took this long to get Kerfoot in the bottom-6. This is what I mean:
- Tavares/Nylander with Kerfoot (at 5-on-5): 64 shot attempts and 32 scoring chances per 60 minutes
- Tavares/Nylander without Kerfoot (5-on-5): 74 shot attempts, 43 scoring chances per 60 minutes.
- Oh, and the team allows a lot less defensively with him off the line as well.
Kase has not played on the second line in this iteration so whether the three of them mesh well, I guess we'll see. But other players besides Kerfoot have seen this line play extremely well so it's a reasonable bet that Kase will as well. It is just a matter of the coach sticking with the lines and not going to his safety blanket.
On the topic of top-6 lineup moves, Brad Marchand returned Thursday night from his 6-game suspension. They did not reassemble the top line, though, as Jake DeBrusk was moved up rather than David Pastrnak. We know that DeBrusk asked for a trade out of Boston months ago, so this is likely a showcase as the trade deadline is less than four weeks away.
They did reunite the Hall-Haula-Pastrnak line which, I get it, but that line wasn't great. Maybe just seeing if they can get away with it in the playoffs? Not sure if they can but it would be fun to watch.
Some significant Flyers injury updates: