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Game Theory: Bob, Korpi and Torts’ Starting Strategy

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In the first two games, Blue Jackets fans have seen both of their goalies in action. But, would it have served the team better if the goalie rotation were flopped to begin the season?

NHL: Preseason-St. Louis Blues at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

In the Blue Jackets’ first two games of the season, John Tortorella used both of his goaltenders to get them some early-season work right off the bat (and, I’m sure having a home-road back-to-back didn’t hurt in making that decision).

Torts put the defending Vezina winner, Sergei Bobrovsky, in the net against the Islanders for the home opener, and put in back-up Joonas Korpisalo in net against the Blackhawks.

And the results were exactly what you’d expect. Bob was magnificent against the sub-par (or, rather, a sub-par looking) Isles club while the red-hot ‘Hawks put five goals past Korpi.

In almost any other circumstance, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Of course you start the reigning best goaltender in the league, especially in the season opener and especially in your own building.

But I’m here to tell you this was the circumstance to do the exact opposite.

As soon as the buzzer sounded on Chicago’s 10-goal performance against Pittsburgh, Torts should have more seriously entertained (I say “more seriously,” because I think he did, in fact, considering doing exactly this) swapping the two starters’ schedules.

Put the guy who’s still looking to earn experience-minutes in at home, with a friendly crowd and put your tried and true vet in net in the hostile road environment.

Following the loss in Chicago, Aaron Portzline penned that the Jackets need to “learn to win” when Bob takes a break. But, I don’t blame this performance or loss on the fact that the Jackets didn’t play with the “same confidence” or whatever cliche you want to throw out. If you’re down 2-0 five minutes into the game, on the road, it’s hard to come back from that. Anywhere against anyone.

But, if Bob is back there, who knows what the result could have been?

I’m not here to write an alternate history recap on how the game would have gone if Bob started Saturday. Nor am I here to say that the 5-1 loss in the second game of the season is going to doom the Jackets.

All I’m saying is it would have been a fun little experiment, and a practice in early-season tactics (and, I fully admit, perhaps early-season out-smarting one’s self, too) to see what the end results would have been.