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The 5th Line Report: Let's Get Going

by Martin Poston / Columbus Blue Jackets

The John Tortorella era in Columbus began last week with a win and a loss on the road, the first two games of a four-game road trip for the Blue Jackets.

The team now takes on a pair of Metropolitan Division opponents -- the New Jersey Devils (WIN!) and the Washington Capitals on Friday -- before returning to Nationwide Arena for a Halloween tilt against the Winnipeg Jets.

Was Saturday the catalyst for an epic 74-game winning streak? Probably not.

However, it was a much needed win and it came against a good Colorado team loaded with young talent.

And right now, it is -- and needs to be -- the first step in the climb back up the Metro Division standings.

That climb will not be easy, as the Blue Jackets take on three fairly hot teams. The Devils come into tonight's game on a four-game win streak, after a 0-3-1 start.

The Blue Jackets solved Cory Schneider, who responsible for all four of those Devils wins, three times in the third period en route to a 3-1 win.

Meanwhile, Washington has won five straight after splitting their first two games. It's a decent guess the Jackets will see Braden Holtby in net Friday, as he is responsible for four out of those five wins. He rested for the Caps' last game against Edmonton, and there is a game against Pittsburgh tomorrow before Washington hosts Columbus.

On Saturday, Columbus will get a visit from Winnipeg. The Jets are currently holding their own in the always-tough Central Division, in which the top six teams are separated by a mere two points.

Tortorella brings a fresh voice and a different perspective to the room.

A few days before taking over as head coach, the then-NHL Network analyst gave an in-depth analysis of the Jackets play through the first six games. There was a lot of focus on defensive play and goaltending.

However, that was an outside perspective and just an analysis.

Tortorella has had his successes as a coach -- including two Division titles and a Stanley Cup Championship in 2004.

At the conference the Blue Jackets held to announce his hiring, Tortorella put a bit of emphasis on the word "listen."

The fact that he put such an emphasis on listening, when talking about taking over with the Jackets, might suggest that he is in a team-building mode, as opposed to the proverbial "swift kick."

Now, many in hockey circles know Tortorella as a pretty fiery guy, so some of that "swift kick" attitude is not out of the question.

However, Tortorella knows that he is not taking over a team that is broken. He understands the front office and its "Brick By Brick" philosophy, and that this team has the right pieces. He has seen what this team is capable of doing when it is healthy, just as the 5th Line has. That is what has made the start of the season so tough to take.

The game on Saturday gave us a glimpse of that team again, and that was also without Ryan Johansen, who Tortorella has listed as day-to-day (illness). Johansen also missed Tuesday's game in New Jersey.

Hard work, accountability and more consistency are the keys to this team finding its way back.

Brick By Brick.

This is Tortorella's team to build now.


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