“It looks like a beautiful building,” John Tortorella said of the Barclays Center this morning.
“It’s a pain in the ass to get here.”
He was half-joking, of course (or was he?), after the Blue Jackets wrapped up a morning meeting and prepared for their first-ever game in the new home of the New York Islanders, a Metropolitan Division team with which they’ve brewed a subtly-intriguing rivalry.
The last two meetings in particular have been feisty affairs, the latest a 3-2 overtime win for the Islanders at Nationwide Arena on Dec. 12. The Blue Jackets fought back to force overtime before giving up a 2-on-0 break in sudden death, leaving poor Curtis McElhinney to fend for himself against Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo.
Tonight, though, there’s a different vibe. The Blue Jackets are wobbling a bit, having dropped three straight and only took one of four points from the Carolina Hurricanes this weekend. Offensively, there wasn’t enough, and at times, they struggled defensively and had trouble getting out of their own end cleanly.
Rectifying such concerns will be important tonight against an Islanders team that loves to play with speed and challenge the opposition’s defense – and that starts with their approach.
“I hope we play with an edge,” Tortorella said. “I don’t know what’s happened the last couple of years (between the Blue Jackets and Islanders). I really don’t care. I’m worried about what’s happening today.
“I just don’t think, within the six periods there (against Carolina), we played enough minutes with an edge and with the proper energy. Our ‘D’ got more involved in the third period and helped us create offense. Did we play poorly? No, but I think we need to play more consistent.”
The Blue Jackets are an impressive 14-4-4 all-time against the Islanders but they’ve dropped the last two meetings. Prior to that, you’ll recall, Columbus closed out the Islanders’ previous home (Nassau Coliseum) with a shootout win that denied them home ice in the playoffs.
Other notes from today:
- Anton Forsberg starts in goal tonight opposite Thomas Greiss for the Islanders.
- Justin Falk remains in the lineup on the third pair with Fedor Tyutin tonight. As Tortorella indicated yesterday, that pairing could change tomorrow in Toronto on the second end of a back-to-back, depending on how tonight goes.
- Kevin Connauton was placed on waivers by the Blue Jackets this afternoon. If he clears, he’ll be assigned to Lake Erie (AHL). Connauton, claimed off waivers by Columbus last season before going on a solid run and stabilizing his spot in the lineup, has been a healthy scratch in five straight games.
- The forward lines: Hartnell-Wennberg-Saad, Jenner-Karlsson-Atkinson, Rychel-Dubinsky-Anderson, Bourque-Campbell-Boll.