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Preview: Tortorella stresses 'composure' during tough stretch

Blue Jackets tested early, facing adversity amid injuries and three-game losing streak.

by Brian Hedger @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

GAME 16: HURRICANES (5-5-3) AT BLUE JACKETS (9-6-1)

NATIONWIDE ARENA, 7 P.M., FRIDAY

TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO/FOX SPORTS GO

RADIO: CD102.5 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM

The Blue Jackets are getting their first taste of adversity this season.

Columbs heads into this game against the Carolina Hurricanes with a three-game losing streak (0-2-1), two role-playing forwards on injured reserve (Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak), might not have fourth-line center Zac Dalpe (upper body) and has a 4-5-1 record in the past 10 games.

Each of the Jackets' past three games has been close, including a 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on home ice Tuesday, but staying close isn't the goal.

"I think [Friday's] a pretty important game for us, just not to lose our wits about ourselves [and] just handle it with a little bit of composure," coach John Tortorella said Thursday after practice. "Let's find a way to win a game, and it could be an ugly game. It could be we don't play nearly as good as the other night, but you need to keep your composure, go about your business, try to be the best you can be, and find a way to win a game."

Tortorella spent part of the off day Wednesday going over the Blue Jackets' 3-1 loss Tuesday to Nashville, looking for areas of weakness. He didn't find many.

"I told you guys (reporters) we won some games this year that we didn't deserve to win, and we're going to lose some games we deserve to win," Tortorella said. "The last game was one of them for me, because I broke that game down [Wednesday], and we did a lot of good things in that game. [We] held them to eight or nine scoring chances. We had 16 or 17. We couldn't beat [goalie Pekka Rinne]. I don't think we were in front of him enough. I thought that was the weakest part of our game. We played a good hockey game."

Columbus played that game with seven defensemen dressed and 11 forwards. Dalpe was scratched, which meant Gabriel Carlsson returned from an 11-game injury absence to play the role of the seventh blue-liner.

Tortorella isn't sure whether he will dress 11 or 12 forwards against Carolina. He is more certain that regular-season rough patches like this can pay off later, such as adverse situations in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"That's very important for this team, to go through these things," he said. "If you go through 'em, and you have the opportunity to maybe play in the playoffs - and you still have to get there - I think you're better ready for playoffs when you go through some of the bumps. So, I don't mind this. You hate losing, but there are good teaching games and it's a good situation for a young team, how you handle yourself."

SERIES RECORD

2017-18 Season: (1-0-0). This is the second of four games this season. The Blue Jackets will host the Hurricanes on Nov. 28 and play the finale of the season series Dec. 16 at PNC Arena.

All-time: 15-13-3 overall; 7-6-1 at Nationwide Arena

"BY THE NUMBERS"

  • 0: Amount of time Blue Jackets center Alexander Wennberg has played on power plays during the past two games.
  • 6: Hurricanes players who began their NHL careers with the Chicago Blackhawks: Scott Darling, Teuvo Teravainen, Marcus Kruger, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Joakim Nordstrom and Klas Dahlbeck
  • 6: Consecutive penalty shots denied by Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky since he last allowed a goal on one Nov. 14, 2011 against former Hurricanes forward Patrick Dwyer.
  • 13: Consecutive shots without a goal for Columbus on power plays. The Jackets haven't scored a power-play goal in three straight games (0-for-9).
  • 60: Number of shots the Hurricanes put on goal Nov. 2 at Pepsi Arena in Denver, a 5-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

EYES ON: THE HURRICANES

  • Cam Ward will start in net for Carolina, which ended a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 win Tuesday against the Florida Panthers. Ward has only made three starts, playing as Scott Darling's backup. He is 1-2-0 with 3.39 goals-against average, and allowed five goals on 27 shots in his most recent start, a 5-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 2 at Pepsi Center in Denver.
  • Darling, who made 30 saves on 31 shots against the Panthers, is likely to start the finale of the Hurricanes' back-to-back Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Darling is from the Chicago suburb of Lemont, Ill. He started the first game of the season series against Columbus on Oct. 10 in Carolina and made 25 saves in the Blue Jackets' 2-1 overtime win.
  • Veteran forward Justin Williams became the first Hurricanes player to reach double-figures in points this season when he had a goal and assist Tuesday against the Panthers. Williams has two goals, nine assists and 11 points in 13 games.
  • Defenseman Brett Pesce will get back into the lineup after missing three games with a concussion. The Hurricanes assigned Roland McKeown to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League on Thursday, after activating veteran forward Lee Stempniak (upper body). Stempniak was also sent to Charlotte on a conditioning stint.

EYES ON: THE BLUE JACKETS

  • Bobrovsky is expected to get the start after Joonas Korpisalo made 26 saves on 28 shots Tuesday in the Blue Jackets' 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators. Bobrovsky made 37 saves to lead Columbus to a 2-1 overtime win Oct. 10 against Carolina, He's made 99 saves on 103 shots (.961 save percentage) in his past three starts against the Hurricanes.
  • Forwards Nick Foligno, Wennberg and Dalpe each missed the Blue Jackets' practice Thursday. Dalpe is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Foligno and Wennberg had maintenance days off, and are expected to play.
  • Defenseman Gabriel Carlsson returned to the lineup Tuesday against Nashville, playing 5:52 on six shifts. Carlsson missed 11 games with an upper-body injury, and was the Blue Jackets' seventh defenseman.
  • Zach Werenski has played a new role on the top power-play unit in the past two games. The defenseman is now the right wing of the group, able to drift lower in the offensive zone to fire shots from closer range. "I'm used to [playing] the top and seeing everybody, so my options are a little bit different. I really like it. I think it's just to get you shooting more and just being a threat to shoot from there."

QUOTABLES

"The places to shoot pucks are there. We just want to make an extra pass. That frustrates you even more, because it's one of those [things where] you're on the bench and you're ready for a shot, and you see a pass." - Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, on his team's tendency to pass too much during power plays.

"I don't care what you are, what pick, what money you make, all that [stuff]. I want you to play, and I want you to play for your teammates. I think 'Wennie' has it in him. I'm not condemning him, but I need to see it. It's the eye test. It's not analytics. It's an eye test. I need to see it." - Tortorella, on what he's looking for from center Alexander Wennberg.

"I'm not looking to kick him. I'm looking to try to help him, because I think if he gets his game back, we've got something going up the middle of the ice. So, we'll see where it goes." - Tortorella on taking center Alexander Wennberg off the power play the past two games.

"It's up to me to show it, then, right?" - Wennberg, on Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella wanting him to prove he belongs on the power play.

"The timing's probably the biggest thing for me. Probably the first two shifts I'm going to keep it simple and just get my feet wet again. It was three games, but a week feels like a month in terms of coming back." - Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce, who will play after missing three games with a concussion.

"It feels like a lot of teams have one or two defensemen who are really jumping into the play, and this team obviously has two defensemen who really want to jump into the play. They've got some really talented young D-men here that we've got to watch out for. We have to beat them up ice. Otherwise, it's going to be dangerous on the second wave." - Hurricanes center Marcus Kruger, on Blue Jackets defensemen Zach Werenski and Seth Jones.

 

PROJECTED LINEUPS

HURRICANES

Forward lines

Sebastian Aho - Jordan Staal - Teuvo Teravainen

Jeff Skinner - Derek Ryan - Elias Lindholm

Brock McGinn - Victor Rask - Justin Williams

Joakim Nordstrom - Marcus Kruger - Josh Jooris

Defense pairings 

Jaccob Slavin - Justin Falk

Haydn Fleury - Trevor van Riemsdyk

Noah Hanifin - Brett Pesce

Goaltenders

Cam Ward

Scott Darling

Out: Klas Dahlbeck, Patrick Brown, Lee Stempniak (conditioning stint)

Injured reserve: None

BLUE JACKETS

Forward lines

Artemi Panarin - Alexander Wennberg - Cam Atkinson

Pierre-Luc Dubois - Nick Foligno - Josh Anderson

Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Oliver Bjorkstrand

Sonny Milano -Tyler Motte

Defense pairings

Zach Werenski - Seth Jones

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Ryan Murray - Markus Nutivaara - Gabriel Carlsson

Goaltenders

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Out: Scott Harrington, Zac Dalpe (upper body)

Injured reserve: Lukas Sedlak (ankle), Matt Calvert (upper body)

Lineup note: Tortorella could go with seven defensemen and 11 forwards again if Dalpe can't play.

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