Things are starting to look a little sketchy for the Columbus Blue Jackets when it comes to the status of defenseman Zach Werenski.
There were concerns about Werenski's status following some eyebrow raising decisions from the Columbus Blue Jackets coaching staff in the pivotal moments of Game 4, especially given the team's late game collapse, but it now seems obvious that those decisions were not made by the coaches at all. Although, due to the National Hockey League's moratorium on injury or illness updates regarding their players, the Blue Jackets have not officially confirmed that Werenski is injured, however TSN insider Darren Dreger is reporting that Werenski is scheduled to undergo an MRI this afternoon and has in fact been injured.
Werenski is dealing with an upper body injury which would explain why he was glued to the bench during the late stages of Game 4, but the problems for the Blue Jackets may now go well beyond just that game. This leaves serious doubts about whether or not Werenski will be available to the Blue Jackets for Game 5 which is scheduled to go down this Sunday, players don't usually undergo MRIs unless members of their training staff or the players themselves believe there is an underlying problem. The fact that Werenski was unable to be an impact player for the Blue Jackets during that late game collapse, the kind of moment star players demand to be put in, speaks volumes to me about the seriousness of what Werenski may be dealing with here.
There is one more thing I would note here and that would be the comments that were made by Columbus Blue Jackets veteran general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on Saturday regarding the injury to his talented young defenseman. Kekalainen was asked about whether or not he had any optimism regarding Werenski's status for Game 5 and although the general manager did say he was holding out hope, it may have been due in part because he isn't allowed to provide an actual update on Werenski's health.
"I guess we’ll always be optimistic, but I can’t answer that further," said the Jackets GM.
The loss of a player like Werenski could deflate a team competing in an elimination game or it could galvanize them into playing harder for their injured teammate, we may find out which one of those best describes the Jackets on Sunday.