The Blue Jackets took to the ice Monday in a practice that had them splitting the 60-minute session between Nationwide Arena and the OhioHealth Ice Haus. John Tortorella put the team through an uptempo skate that included a focus on special teams.
The practice came on the heels of a week where the Blue Jackets went 1-1-1 and an opportunity missed as far as Tortorella is concerned; the team failed to win at home Saturday against the New Jersey Devils and turn a .500 week into a winning one.
"I don't think we were awful against New Jersey," Tortorella said. "But I don't think we were at the level (you need to be at) when you come home."
"We've had a pretty good home record. I'd like to see us have a reputation of how fast we start. I'd like to see this be more instinctive, that it's expected to have a good start in our building."
Instinctive. Consistent. To a standard. Identity. These are all traits Tortorella has repeatedly said he's looking for this group of Blue Jackets to grab hold of and own. And they are still a work in process.
This isn't just about playing like the team did during it's 16-game win streak. There's work to do.
Tortorella wants to see his team be more aggressive blocking shots and in their checking game. In the same breath, he'll remind you that this is not about limiting his players offensively, but more about consistency of the behaviors that help this team win.
After all, this group has seen it work.
"When our forwards are going and reloading and turning over pucks, it's incredible," Ryan Murray said. "I've never seen a team turn over so many pucks in the offensive zone just forechecking. When we do that, we're skating and we're turning pucks over. Our identity is we're a hard-working team. We out-work the other team and when we do that it's very clear, you can see it."
One group Tortorella is not worried about right now is the Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson line. The trio played with intensity in last week's back-to-back games against Pittsburgh and New Jersey putting up four points as a unit (2-2-4).
Jenner's play on the wing has been notably aggressive and at full throttle.
"(Jenner) has allowed himself to play and I think he sees he's making more of a difference by just not even thinking," Tortorella said. "He's hitting, he's just going straight ahead. I think the other things will follow. He's is a good example of what our guys need to strive to be right now.
"I believe our other lines will get going. If we can get our other lines going somewhere consistently and Dubinsky's line stays where it's at, we've got something."
- The team is thankful to have Markus Nutivaara back in the lineup. He returned to play Saturday after an eight-game absence due to injury. "He sees the ice really well," Murray said. "He's got a really good offensive instinct. He uses that long stick in the defensive zone to poke pucks and he's a really smart player. I think his potential is through the roof."
- Tortorella, who loves football, watched "every single play" of Super Bowl LI last night. He said the Patriots' historic comeback was a master class in managing momentum, and credited New England with creating an avalanche of momentum on which Atlanta couldn't regain a foothold.
- The Blue Jackets play their final game at Joe Louis Arena tomorrow in Detroit. Talk about a standard of play, that's just one of the things that arena represents to Tortorella: "We're trying to get to a standard. They defined it as far as what was expected year in and year out. That building reeks of winning."