Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Columbus Blue Jackets

Practice Notebook: March 17

Jackets preparing for matinee weekend in New York

by Alison Lukan @AlisonL /

The Jackets are sitting in second place in the NHL, thanks to a change in the team's style of play, activating the defense and playing a north-south style.

"We're playing a different game," John Tortorella said. "I do think we've had the puck more. I'm not sure what the numbers bear out but we have certainly played a different game this year."

According to, the Jackets currently sit with the fifth best 5-on-5 corsi for percentage (score, venue and zone adjusted) in the league (51.38%). More often than not, this is a team that is winning the possession battle.

Part of that comes from playing the game faster, starting in the defensive zone. Tortorella wants his defense "always looking north," and not across the zone with a "D-to-D" pass. He cites the play of Zach Werenski and Seth Jones as examples of players who have really been able to embrace this philosophy.

Moving the puck north can come via different means in Tortorella's eyes. It can come ideally by moving play forward with control, but it can also come from putting the puck into areas where the team can regain control.

Video: Torts on how his team has evolved

"It's our neutral zone decisions," Tortorella said. "We don't make decisions for our players. If they feel they can make a play or carry a puck we want them to do it. We just don't want them to get stubborn and try to make plays (skating through) a 1-on-2 or a 2-on-3. That's where you put in area plays or you slash across. There's a lot of different things that come into play when you skate onto it.

"You make right decisions, and you make wrong decisions throughout the game. I think we've done a really good job on being consistent on not being stubborn in that neutral zone."

Other notes:

  • About two thirds of the team participated in an optional skate prior to departing for New York for a matinee back-to-back against the Islanders and Devils.
  • Joonas Korpisalo has lost his last two starts, but Tortorella isn't concerned about the goaltender's play. "I don't think anything effects him," Tortorella said. "If something goes wrong in a game, it doesn't get to him. He's able to recover right away and is ready to go again."
  • Tortorella wants his team to play north-south, but he doesn't want them to lose the "crust" in their game, or forget about the grind to a game. The coaching staff talked to the team about blocking shots more consistently a few games ago, and it paid off in Thursday's win over Florida, when the team stymied a late push by the Panthers by blocking a flurry of attempts in the final minutes.
View More