GAME 81: BLUE JACKETS VS. FLYERS
WELLS FARGO CENTER, 12:30 P.M.
TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO / FOX SPORTS GO
RADIO: 97.1 & BLUEJACKETS.COM
The Jackets head to Philadelphia to start their final back-to-back of the regular season with a matinee matchup against the Flyers.
Going into Saturday's game, the Jackets hold the 3-0 season series advantage over Philadelphia and can complete the sweep, and end their own five-game losing streak, with a win.
It will be another tough test. For the second game in a row the Jackets face a team that is out of the post-season conversation but has put together more wins than losses of late. The Flyers are 6-3-1 in their last ten games and come to Saturday's with a three-day window since their last game, a 1-0 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils.
Video: William Karlsson on the last two games of the season
The Jackets will be focused on shoring up their defensive play as the team's offensive players started to regain their scoring touch in Thursday's 5-4 loss to Winnipeg. Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner both scored. Oliver Bjorkstrand provided two assists and Brandon Saad had two goals on the night.
"I'm thrilled with last night because Wennberg played a really good game and I saw Saad come alive a little bit," Tortorella said. "Defensively, I think we're putting ourselves in situations off the rush where we're chasing the game. We're giving up the middle when we're really in good position to start with and we get a little overanxious and we give up the middle. Offensive people look to get the middle and defensive people need to try to open the door to the outside so they don't get the middle."
Carlsson joins the team.
20-year-old Gabriel Carlsson has had an exciting ten days. After completing his second full season with Linköping HC of the Swedish Hockey League, on Mar. 30 he was assigned to the Cleveland Monsters. He had one assist in three games in the AHL before being called up to the NHL club just over a week later.
"Cleveland was good," Carlsson said. "It took some time to adjust to the smaller rink (in North America) and the different style of play. But it was a good group and good games and a lot of good guys on the team. I really enjoyed it."
Tortorella, who talked to Carlsson in Chicago and again Thursday morning when the 6-foot-4, 191 lb. defenseman joined the Jackets, said the left-handed Swede may see time in the final two regular season games.
Video: Josh Anderson is optimistic heading into postseason
"In talking to (Monsters head coach) John Madden, Carlsson has been mistake free, and (Madden has been) impressed with his positioning," Tortorella said. "He's still just a young kid. But it's very promising as far as how he started his American League career. With the injury with Zach Werenski and some struggles at certain times with some of the other guys, we may take a look at him in one of these games."
Final games' focus.
Before the team left for Philadelphia Friday, Tortorella was asked if he preferred to go into the post-season riding a wave of momentum that could come off winning either, or both, of the Jackets final two games.
The head coach was quick to remind the attending media that this Jackets team has put in the necessary work to understand the team concept being built this year. It's right to be frustrated he acknowledge, especially when you're a team that hasn't lost much this season, but Tortorella isn't looking to hit any panic buttons.
"I think all coaches are trying to get their team tracking the right way and not into a lot of bad habits (heading into the playoffs)," Tortorella said. "But what do you do if you don't? Let's say we still struggle, what do we do? Do we say 'ok, we can't play the playoffs (because) we didn't have a good couple of weeks so we're leaving, we're going to go?'
"I've been very careful with some of the panic and noise around that we're going to be ok. As far as where their mindset is going to be, whether we beat two teams 5-0 or lose 5-0 I don't think it's going to destroy us."