The signing of veteran defenseman Brett Lebda has taken on added importance in recent weeks as Blue Jackets defenseman keep falling prey to injuries.
Nikita Nikitin was the latest to be sidelined, suffering a left knee injury that will keep him out of the lineup indefinitely.
He joins James Wisniewski, who is still weeks away with a fractured left ankle, and Radek Martinek, who is out for the season with a lingering concussion.
"It's not how you want to get into the lineup, but I'm excited for this opportunity and I hope to make the most of it," Lebda said. "This organization gave me a chance (in November) to come and play with them in the minor leagues, and this is the opportunity I was hoping for when I decided to join them."
The Blue Jackets wasted no time getting Lebda up to speed. He made his Columbus debut in Monday's 4-1 loss in Nashville, pairing with Fedor Tyutin on the No. 1 pair and playing 21 minutes, 14 seconds. Lebda, 30, has played in 367 NHL games with Detroit and Toronto.
Columbus' final game before the All-Star break is Tuesday at Tampa Bay.
NOTES, QUOTESBlue Jackets have been no match for Nashville
--The rivalry is officially dead. The Blue Jackets and Nashville used to play nasty, physical games in a back-and-forth rivalry. But the Blue Jackets are only 11-29-9 vs. Nashville since the lockout, including a 1-5-0 record this season.
--Monday's loss in Nashville dropped the Blue Jackets to 2-4-1 under interim coach Todd Richards, who took over upon the firing of Scott Arniel on Jan. 8. Richards has been told he'll coach the club the rest of the season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It wasn't a fun period to watch. I think everyone felt that way." -- Blue Jackets interim coach Todd Richards after the Blue Jackets were outshot 12-3 and fell behind 1-0 in Nashville on Monday.
ROSTER REPORTPLAYER NOTES:
--D Nikita Nikitin was diagnosed with a left knee injury (the Blue Jackets won't say the extent) after his collision with the boards in Saturday's shootout loss to Detroit. Nikitin was shoved from behind on the play by Red Wings winger Henrik Zetterberg, but Zetterberg -- who was given a five-minute major and 10-minute game misconduct for baording -- was not subject to further discipline by the NHL. Nikitin is day-to-day.
--RW R.J. Umberger returned to the lineup on Monday in Nashville after missing five games with a concussion, the second of his career. Umberger played 14 minutes, 42 seconds and was back on the Jackets' No. 2 line with Tomas Kubalik and Derick Brassard.
--D Brett Lebda made his Blue Jackets debut and played 21:14 on Monday in Nashville, skating with Fedor Tyutin on the No. 1 pair.
--C Ryan Johansen was a healthy scratch on Monday in Nashville. Interim coach Todd Richards has been mildly critical lately of Johansen's up-and-down performances from game to game, but Richards allows that it's the mark of a young player.
--D James Wisniewski (broken ankle) is out until February.
--C Jeff Carter (separated shoulder) is out indefinitely.
--RW Mark Letestu (broken hand) is out until late February.
--LW Kristian Huselius (lower body) is out until February.
--D Radek Martinek (concussion) is out for the season.
--D Nikita Nikitin (left knee) is out indefinitely.