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Game Preview #26 - Tough Lessons

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John Tortorella seems bent on teaching the tough lessons. Tonight will be another one.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jackets at Canadiens - 7:30 PM
Game Faceoff

For every step forward under John Tortorella that the Jackets seem to take, there's almost an immediate step back. Get your first two wins of the season? Lose two in a row, including a stinker at home to Winnipeg. Take two out of three in California? Come home and blow a late lead to Vancouver. Win four of five, including absolutely stealing a game from Nashville? Piss one away to San Jose. Win two more in a row? Watch helplessly as St. Louis imposes their will. Look, 10-7-0 is a nice change after 0-8-0 to start, but 10-7-0 isn't even exactly what we'd expected from this group.

Torts clearly expects more, too, and let them know it yesterday morning. After an earned off day Sunday (what with three games in four nights in three different cities preceding it), he worked them HARD yesterday, including some Herbies (or suicides or whatever you call them). Ryan Johansen found himself skating a couple of those, only adding fuel to the perceived fire. Scott Hartnell attempted to deflect, saying that everything was happening "for a reason" that would be kept "in-house". As for Torts: "I think they’re practicing better, as far as how quickly we practice. It’s just so difficult to change your conditioning. As a coach, you’re trying to maintain your conditioning. I think they’re thinking quicker, because they’re practicing quicker. So when they get into the game they’re not chasing the game, the game is coming to them. That’s what you want to happen to a player."

There is somewhat of a silver lining to all of this moaning and wailing. In terms of winning percentage of opponents (and the metric I've seen includes the teams we've played twice two times), the Jackets have played the toughest schedule in their division to this point, and the third toughest in the league overall. Their remaining schedule is the 20th-toughest in the league in terms of winning percentage (so, not points percentage, but wins). In other words, if they cut their teeth on a tough schedule and start to build up the habits that Torts wants, there is still room to make some hay the rest of the way.

But it's on them to do it.

The Habs have been a machine tough to slow down (hey, speaking of that tough schedule...), and even without Carey Price for the next six weeks they're a tough team to play, especially at home. The Jackets will have their hands full tonight.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(10-15-0, 20 Points; 8th division, 16th conference)

Boone Jenner Ryan Johansen Nick Foligno
Scott Hartnell Alexander Wennberg Brandon Saad
Matt Calvert Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
Gregory Campbell William Karlsson Kerby Rychel
Jack Johnson David Savard
Ryan Murray Kevin Connauton
Justin Falk Andrew Bodnarchuk
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

Montreal Canadiens
(18-4-3, 39 Points; 1st Division, 1st Conference)

Max Pacioretty Tomas Plekanec Devante Smith-Pelly
Lars Eller Alex Galchenyuk Sven Andrighetto
Tomas Fleischmann David Desharnais Dale Weise
Paul Byron Brian Flynn Christian Thomas
Andrei Markov P.K. Subban
Nathan Beaulieu Jeff Petry
Alexei Emelin Tom Gilbert
Mike Condon
Zach Fucale