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Blue Jackets’ focus now turns to home-ice struggles

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

John Tortorella didn’t hold back when he was asked if he learned anything about his team from the recently completed California trip.

“I’m sure you guys did, too, honestly say, ‘oh crap, we’re going to California after that game against Winnipeg,’ right?” he said. “I thought we answered very well. I don’t think we gave in. We were a little inconsistent, but we played.”

The Blue Jackets have swept the three-game swing through San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles only once in franchise history, and they had a chance on Friday night against a Ducks team that’s starting to wake up after a disastrous start.

Columbus was in the game but couldn’t finish opportunities – particularly on the power play – and dropped a 4-2 decision, sending them back home with a yes-we-will-absolutely-take-it record of 2-1-0 on the trip.

And after a travel day on Saturday and a mandatory day off Sunday, the Blue Jackets’ focus shifts to a very concerning 0-fer on their record: they have yet to win a game at Nationwide Arena this season, and it has not been pretty on home ice.

Their most recent outing in Columbus was a 3-2 loss to Winnipeg on Halloween night, a game in which Tortorella said they had no structure and little to no push.

Among their first five games at home: a deflating loss in the opener to the Rangers (giving up three late goals), a third-period collapse against the Senators, a no-bueno loss to the Maple Leafs and a 4-0 shutout by the Islanders.

They have been out-scored by a 24-10 margin in five home games (0-5-0).

So yes, it has been a struggle within the friendly confines of Nationwide Arena in the early going, but there’s plenty of time to get it turned around and some added confidence from this trip should benefit the Blue Jackets as they prepare for Tuesday’s game against Vancouver.

“We have to start making (Nationwide Arena) a tough place to play,” Tortorella said. “If you don’t win home games, you don’t have a chance.”

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