In their 5-3 loss to Vancouver on Tuesday night, the Blue Jackets gave up as many third period goals (three) than they had in their first seven games under John Tortorella.
Their late-game collapse befuddled the coach, who didn’t really know what to say about their response to Cam Atkinson’s go-ahead shorthanded goal in the third period. The prevailing thought in today’s NHL is that the three-goal plateau is the magic number, but the Blue Jackets needed at least five to have a chance last night – which puts a lot of pressure on everyone.
So, in an effort to dust themselves off and forget about it (while also, in a way, remembering it…if that makes sense?), they were back to work yesterday at Nationwide Arena in a 37-minute practice filled with battle drills, net-front defending and a lot of vocal instruction.
Their next test looms tomorrow in Pittsburgh against the Penguins, their first meeting of the season with their rivals from down I-70 – and they know that a repeat of Tuesday’s third period (or, at least, that ill-fated seven minute stretch) isn’t acceptable.
“The goals we gave up (Tuesday) were way too easy,” Tortorella said. “We worked hard for our chances…and gave up too many easy goals. It’s underneath the hash marks, people getting behind us, and simple puck battles.
“We did not complete the game the proper way away from the puck. I’m sure it’s disappointing for them – they’re very disappointed, because we were there. We played a good game. You have to learn how to finish those games, and we didn’t.”
Here are a few updates before today’s practice. The team will make the 26-minute flight to Pittsburgh later this afternoon:
- Alexander Wennberg was placed on injured reserve yesterday with a foot injury. GM Jarmo Kekalainen said he’s expected to miss two weeks of action. As of now, the Blue Jackets don’t have any plans to make a recall from Lake Erie (AHL), as they have Rene Bourque here as an extra forward.
- Ryan Johansen did not practice yesterday but Tortorella didn’t think it was anything serious. He expects him to play tomorrow against the Penguins, but they’ll see how he’s doing today before making that determination.
- One of the bright spots in Tuesday’s loss was the power play, which got off to a 2-for-2 start in the first period on two plays that were eerily similar. Boone Jenner scored one and Jack Johnson the other, but both goals were the product of taking the puck to the net and making a determined play in a hard area, which puts pressure on the penalty killers.
“It was an instinct to bring the puck to the net, and if you bring the puck to the net, they’re gonna have to defend you somewhere,” Tortorella said. “I thought they made the right plays. The game itself is frustrating: you score two power play goals, you score a shorthanded goal in the third period to take the lead, and we still find a way to lose the game. I’m not gonna lie to you – it’s disheartening.”