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Talkin' Torts: Blue Jackets should 'feel good' about recent play

Coach also gives thoughts as Atkinson, Bemstrom struggle to score

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

In The Room: Tortorella 10/23/19

Torts on the win against Toronto in OT

John Tortorella talks about the energy of the team after the win in Toronto

  • 07:07 •

After two straight games where the Blue Jackets were close but ultimately without cigar - back-to-back overtime setbacks Friday and Saturday vs. Chicago and the Islanders, respectively - victory in extra time felt sweet on Monday in Toronto. 

How sweet? Real sweet, head coach John Tortorella confirmed Wednesday. 

"They should feel real good about themselves where I thought we were the more energetic team in the last half of that game," he said after practice. "I do believe in the process and watching how they play. Players don't care about that. They want to be able to put the radio on at the end of the game and have some fun. … I was happy for them." 

 The work doesn't end -- next up is a Carolina team that opened the season with five straight wins -- but it does give the team a good feeling heading into the Metropolitan Division winning showdown. 

Some other notable comments from Tortorella as the Jackets prepare to get back in action Thursday. 

♦ To some around the league, Tortorella is known as the ultimate task masker, one who wants his team to focus on defense, shot blocking and toughness. 

And while he's a fan of all three, to paint him as a luddite in a time of enlightenment is a bit off, too. He's progressed with the times, and one way in which he's done so is in his support of 3-on-3 overtime.  

"That overtime is dynamite," he said after watching his team go through it the past three games. "I don't know what we're waiting for to get rid of the shootout stuff -- let's (just do) overtime. I know they're worrying about the time limit. It's not going to last long. If it goes past five minutes, it's not going to be many more minutes after five. I think it's just dynamite." 

♦ When it comes to two players who are struggling a bit, Tortorella expressed an understanding of where both veteran Cam Atkinson and rookie Emil Bemstrom are. 

As for Atkinson, the man who tied the franchise record for goals in a season a year ago has two goals in the early going but has gone six games without a score. That includes a breakaway chance with less than four minutes to go Monday when the Jackets and Maple Leafs were tied 3-3, but Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen made the five-hole stop. 

"Cam is a goal scorer that wants to score," Tortorella said. "I see frustration because he just wants to help the team win. He wants to be that guy. ... For me, and I'm thinking this, when he gets that breakaway, I'm saying, 'Man, just score.' And I'm thinking two things, 'We're gonna win the game and that's going to help him tremendously.' But he doesn't. It rolls on him a little bit, I think, when I watch it. It rolled on him a little bit, doesn't score, so what does it do? It doubles up on him, his frustration. But Cam's a smart enough guy, a veteran guy in this league. He knows it's going to come." 

Bemstrom showed no trouble adjusting to Sweden's top league a year ago, pumping in 23 goals in 47 games as a rookie to lead the entire SHL. This year, he's yet to find the net in his NHL debut and is on the team's fourth line, and Tortorella said he just needs to stick with it through the early growing pains. 

"It's an interesting one in where, usually a coach with a young guy isn't giving him minutes because of the play away from the puck," Tortorella said. "I think he's very intelligent away from the puck. He's blocked shots. He's done a lot of good things that way. What he has to do is when he has the puck, he's turned the puck over a little bit when he has the puck. I haven't berated him for turning pucks over. I want him to allow himself to play offensively.  

"He's so rigid and so 'A-B-C, I get the puck, then I look. I get the puck, then I look to shoot.' I want it to flow. And I think it's a lack of confidence. I do think it's a lack of minutes, but I can't cure that for him, the lack of minutes. I can't." 

View the video above to see Tortorella's comments from the day. 

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