Through 7 games CBJ is without a point in the season standings. The hockey world has waited with trepidation since Bob-O came out of the no-confidence closet. The hockey world waits again to see if Torts’ reform is the answer.
Tortorella has proven himself as a winner, and as a sore loser. Can Torts steer this ship back on course or will the elusiveness of a winning season steer him to channel Tom Webster (Coach, Kings 1990)? Has Torts matured as much as his NHL Network associations lead us to believe or is he just a losing percentage away from a confrontation at an opponent’s locker room? This team needs him to be the effective coach he can be.
The Columbus offense will continue to produce, if not thrive, under their new chief. The Jackets have generally out-shot their opponents and the urgency and creativity in their play is there, as well as the goals for. As such, it is almost discomforting to see them lose games as they have. If Torts stays true to form expect more minutes from Foligno, Hartnell, and Saad (among others); with Foligno averaging 20 minutes the last 3 games, it may just be a seamless transition. The team’s youth should accommodate Torts’ TOI demands, and leaders—particularly Dubinsky—will ensure Torts’ gets all he can from his squad. The question remains, however: will Torts’ be decisively abrasive or will he honor his commitment to listen to his players throughout his tenure?
The Blue Jackets have a young D corp, lacking defensive ability. There have been an extraordinary number of goals coming from defensive turnovers or missed coverage in the low slot. Yet, Bobrovsky bore the criticism of his team’s GA. His no confidence admission becomes cryptic when film is studied; the D play in all but the neutral zone is the likely object of his frustrations. To exacerbate the Columbus faithful, one of McElhinney’s two appearances suffered turnovers at the offensive blue line that led to 2 breakaways in a 4-0 rout by NYI. Bob-O suddenly begins to look like a straw man. If rumors are true and CGY is fishing for offense from CJB, Wideman could fill the void. Tyutin may or may not exhibit better form, but Torts’ will have a chance to author that. Expect Bobrovsky to make a comeback resembling a Vezina trophy winner if Torts' has success.
However, if Bob-O’s confidence [in himself] was diminished, it must be addressed immediately. Observe ARI netminder Mike Smith’s commitment to sports psychology this off-season and his testimony to the success it has allowed him to have. If Torts’ brings his NHL Network demeanor and leaves cell-phone-John at home, his rank will command positively; not the least serving to inspire Tyutin as the defensive pillar he was, Bobrovsky as the Vezina winner he was, and Dubinsky to rally 4 lines that are practically tailored for Tortorella’s system.
If Torts cannot address his team’s goals against, Kekalainen will have several courses available to him and none with definite comparative advantages or opportunity cost. He’s reaching in the dark for a switch to turn on his defense; and like a switch in the dark, he may find it with ease or never at all. Hiring Torts is a good first move, allowing Jarmo's players to stick together. If this team does not suffer a trade and Torts serves his purpose, don't be surprised if the rally carries into May.