John Tortorella repeatedly talked about the Blue Jackets not respecting the Panthers last night. He seemed completely flummoxed as to why, in last place, they would not respect each and every team ahead of them in the standings, and while I don't know if that was the reason for such an impotent offensive attack against a team that just played the night before, it gives me pause.
It's becoming clearer and clearer to me that the club--specifically Tortorella--seems to be telling us that the playoffs this year are no longer even on their radar as a goal. This is a longer-term project, now: completely rebuilding this team from the ground up in terms of their approach to the game.
Give Torts some credit: the defensive numbers are staggeringly good under his leadership, though a lot of that coincides with the return to normalcy of Sergei Bobrovsky. That said, the offense... while it wasn't setting the world on fire before, it is completely non-existent now, especially on the Power Play.
But, it doesn't feel like this is about X's and O's. In some ways, it never was. But, when we hear about disrespecting opponents, and Tortorella's repeated references to mental preparation, focus, and off-ice demeanor, it tells me that now that he's 20 games into his tenure as coach he's seen enough to know that this isn't a quick-fix.
Porty on the latest Cannon Fodder podcast indicated he still sees this club making the playoffs. I no longer share any of that optimism. With a roster this young going through a mental rebuilding process, I just don't see enough to get them there. That's not to say there won't be dividends in the long run. It's to say that I'm done checking the standings and doing the math.
Last night's game was so frustrating for so many reasons. From looking like the more tired team against a team on the second night of a back to back, to not being able to generate ANY offense whether at even strength of on the Power Play, to wasting a glorious performance from Bobrovsky, to looking like a team that had no idea what to do in a shootout... while I'm glad they found a way to get a point, this was another game that felt like a step backward from the previous game. A hard-fought 1-1 game into the third period in Montreal is one thing. A low-output 1-1 game in the third period at home against what should have been the more tired team? Ugh. That one of our most respected veterans was sitting out the game? I won't play the coulda/woulda/shoulda game, but you have to think Hartsy brings a little more thump to that lineup when it was clearly needed.
I just can't get up for this one, tonight. I love this sport and this team, but sometimes you just need to take a break. Tonight is a break for me.
In other news, the team sent Kerby Rychel and Justin Falk back to Lake Erie, which tells me Fedor Tyutin is ready to go (because we all know Torts isn't playing Dalton Prout ever again most likely). We won't know for sure until tonight as there was no morning skate and Torts doesn't meet the media until 5:30. My gut tells me Bob goes again (they had a lot of time off this week, and he likes playing against Philly), Tyutin and Hartnell are back in, and the lines will look nothing like my projections below.
Philly is playing very well (because of course they are when we play them), winners of four straight and five of six. Should be fun!
Columbus Blue Jackets
(10-16-1, 21 Points; 7th division, 15th conference)
|Boone Jenner||Ryan Johansen||Nick Foligno|
|Brandon Saad||Brandon Dubinsky||Cam Atkinson|
|Scott Hartnell||William Karlsson||Matt Calvert|
|Alexander Wennberg||Michael Chaput||Gregory Campbell|
|Jack Johnson||David Savard|
|Ryan Murray||Kevin Connauton|
|Fedor Tyutin||Andrew Bodnarchuk|
(11-10-5, 27 Points; 6th Division, 12th Conference)
|Michael Raffl||Claude Giroux||Brayden Schenn|
|Matt Read||Sean Couturier||Wayne Simmonds|
|Chris VandeVelde||Pierre-Edouard Bellemare||Jakub Voracek|
|R.J. Umberger||Scott Laughton||Ryan White|
|Michael Del Zotto||Luke Schenn|
|Nick Schultz||Yevgeni Medvedev|
|Brandon Manning||Shayne Gostisbehere|