Out since Dec. 21 with a broken collarbone, Gaborik will open on a line with left wing Mark Letestu and center Derek MacKenzie. He will be on the No. 1 power play unit with center Ryan Johansen and wing Nathan Horton.

"I expect him to come out hard and play hard," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "And if he does that, he's going to play fast and generate some offensive chances for us."

Gaborik will have an opportunity, Richards said, to move higher in the lineup if his play dictates such a move.

But first he might need to get up to game speed. The man has played all of four shifts since mid-November, when he suffered a sprained knee in Boston. He returned Dec. 21 against Philadelphia, only to get hurt on his fourth shift of the game.

"It's hard to say," Gaborik said, when asked how long it might take for him to reach his top form. "I've been working hard in practice for a long time, so maybe it won't take me long. Games are different than practice, of course. But I feel like I'm ready, so let's go."