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Tortorella shakes things up as Jackets host Penguins

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets, after a day off for Thanksgiving, were back at Nationwide Arena this morning for a morning skate before hosting the Penguins tonight.

And this morning skate was a bit more detail-oriented, likely due to the off day and a performance on Wednesday night that concerned head coach John Tortorella. After the team’s 2-1 win over the Devils, Tortorella said “it was a team effort of sloppiness” and that the Blue Jackets have “zero habits right now.”

For a team that’s trying to pile up wins and climb up the standings, that’s something needing a cleanup in short order.

They won’t have a formal practice to work on the details until Monday morning, but for now, they’ll have to watch the tape and go about it one shift at a time, starting with tonight’s game against a Penguins team that’s starting to find its game.

So, Torts, what would you like to see cleaned up?

“Pretty much about everything in our game,” Tortorella said. “I thought we had a good start in Jersey. I’ll put it into a general term: we don’t have a clue of how to handle momentum. I’m not talking X’s and O’s, I’m just talking about preparing and concentrating and understand what’s going on around you as far as the momentum of the game. Making simple plays.

"I’m not trying to take their sticks out of their hands – I want them to make plays – but I want them to understand what’s going on around them. We have to have some discipline. We have taken needless penalties…it’s inconceivable when we’re trying to fight and climb out of this hole.”

Other stuff from the rink:

- The Blue Jackets juggled two of their forward lines today. Nick Foligno skated on a line with Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner, while Brandon Saad was alongside Scott Hartnell and William Karlsson. Tortorella said the changes weren’t so much about getting individual players going or reuniting guys who have played well before, but just trying to find a spark for an offense that didn’t have much going on Wednesday.

“It’s getting another line playing instead of Dubi’s line,” Tortorella said. “I couldn’t find any of them (in New Jersey). We’re trying to see if we can ignite something. I’m not sure how long it’ll stay.”

- Sergei Bobrovsky will start in goal. The Blue Jackets play the first leg of a back-to-back tonight and jet off to St. Louis for a game tomorrow at Scottrade Center, so there’s a chance Curtis McElhinney gets a start on the road.

- Justin Falk makes his season debut tonight and is likely to pair with Andrew Bodnarchuk. Dalton Prout, who Tortorella said has been struggling with his game of late, is a healthy scratch.

- Tortorella on Prout (a question that was hilariously posed by Dave Maetzold’s seven-year-old daughter, Ellie, a huge Prout fan): “He’s taken some bad penalties. He’s an easy guy to pull for because he works hard, he’s a great kid. He’s going to sit and watch for a little bit, and hopefully we can get him back in and he’ll step right in and play well.”

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