Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
John Tortorella began practice Monday tossing pucks to kids seated in the Nationwide Arena stands only to lob stern words at his Blue Jackets’ players about 20 minutes later.
The coach halted the session and demanded they pick up their pace. Tortorella urged them not to “lose your practice habits.”
“I think in the last little bit our pace has dipped,” Tortorella said. “It hasn’t been as consistent through the game . . . I think it’s a mental thing about staying on top of yourself as far as playing faster. As I’ve said, the league is going to be better, the league is going to be faster.”
The Blue Jackets (29-9-4) were among the NHL’s best stories in the season’s first half -- complete with a 16-game win streak. But such production doesn’t give clubs the right to hang banners or guarantee them home-ice advantage in the playoffs’ first round.
from Daneil J. Friedman of Sports Illustrated,
The 19-year-old blueliner from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, says the entire thing still feels like a whirlwind.
“I don’t really think it’s hit me yet,” says Werenski. “I feel like when you dream about playing in the NHL, it never really hits you.”
The NHL experience can be a challenge for those new to the circuit, even away from the rink.
“The change off the ice is the hardest part,” he says. “Going to college, where you have classes and a full day, then practice later and then homework, you’re pretty much busy six or seven days of the week. You get to the NHL and you go to the rink for two hours a day, and then you have downtime. I think the hardest part for me is finding hobbies and things to do. You want to rest whenever you can, but at some point you also want to do things.”
Werenski has had to adjust to another big change from college hockey: less practices and optional morning skates.
“We don’t really practice much and, when we do, it’s pretty short,” he says. “At first, I didn’t like it. I felt like I wasn’t getting enough puck touches and wasn’t feeling good on the ice with the puck, but now that I’m used to it, I really enjoy it. I feel like the rest is needed and that it’s only going to pay off in the long run.”
The Blue Jackets have stunned everyone in hockey after a 76-point season a year ago. Unlike some of the other teams that drafted high last June, the rise of Columbus hasn’t even been fuelled by a fabulous freshman. While Pierre-Luc Dubois (third overall) toils away in junior hockey, John Tortorella seems to have convinced a star-less lineup that they’re all a bunch of Gretzkys.
-Damien Cox of the Toronto Star where you can read more on surprise teams and disappointing teams too.
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
John Tortorella waited weeks for adversity to appear over the horizon. As the 16-game win streak unfurled like an open stretch of highway, the Blue Jackets’ coach kept warning folks the top-down, wind-through-the-hair joy ride could not last forever.
It ended last night at 9:35 inside a stunned Nationwide Arena. It ended with backup goalie Curtis McElhinney unable to make key saves and reliable defenseman Seth Jones turning over the puck to the fastest skater on the ice, Michael Grabner, who scored a breakaway goal with 16.5 seconds remaining.
The Blue Jackets, arguably the NHL’s best third-period team, surrendered three goals and lost 5-4 before a standing-room-only sellout crowd of 19,001 fans.Having the win string snapped in Washington with a 5-0 defeat on Thursday is one thing. Blowing a 4-1 lead in a game the Blue Jackets were dominating is quite another.
“This one stings,” captain Nick Foligno said. “The last game, you can say it was the streak and we have to put it behind us, but this one really bothers us because we had enough goals to win the game.”
Game highlights are below...
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-Rakers,
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella has addressed his team after a game only once before this season, when he earned his 500th NHL coaching win in Vancouver and the players coaxed him out to present him a keepsake puck.
On Thursday, Tortorella needed no coaxing.
The Blue Jackets lost 5-0 to the Washington Capitals before 18,506 in Verizon Center, an anticlimactic end to the Jackets’ 16-game winning streak that left them one short of the NHL record, set 24 years ago.
It was the Jackets’ first loss since Nov. 26, two days after Thanksgiving.
“All year long, I haven’t been in the (dressing room),” Tortorella said. “But I would be remiss if I didn’t tell them … that is one hell of a run by a hockey club.
“They should feel good about it. I’m proud of the team. We’re a good hockey team.”
First up is...
Columbus plays at the Washington Capitals on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, FS-O, NHL.TV) with a 16-game winning streak, the second-longest in NHL history and one short of the record set by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins (March 9-April 10, 1993).
more at NHL.com
The United States and Canada will play for the gold medal at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship at Bell Centre on Thursday (8 p.m. ET). Fans in the United States can watch live on NHL.com and NHL Network; Canadian-based viewers can tune in on TSN.
It will be the fourth time in the history of the tournament the countries will play against each other in the final.
continued at NHL.com
NBCSN will have live look-ins of the Columbus game.
Arash Madani of Sportsnet with the interview.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
The Blue Jackets have scored more goals, won by bigger margins, and put on better shows during this historic winning streak. But with the eyes of the sporting world on them – it’s not just the hockey world now – the Blue Jackets were tactically sound and methodical on Tuesday in a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers before 17,169 in Nationwide Arena.
The winning streak now stands at 16 games, the second-longest streak in NHL history. They’ll try to match the NHL record of 17 straight wins (Pittsburgh, 1992-93) when they play in Washington on Thursday.
“We’re rolling right now,” Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson said. “The bench is up, and between periods we’re staying positive even if we’ve had a good period or a bad period. We’re definitely having fun right now.”...
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella has tried to keep a lid on the hysteria, but good luck with that now. ESPN is doing live post-game hits with players – Foligno took the pill after last night’s game – and networks from across the globe are tracking their results. TSN is sending a reporter to Washington. The BBC has included Blue Jackets' scores in their overnight roundups.
Still, the moment has yet to look too big for the Blue Jackets, even though they’re the youngest team in the NHL.
Watch the game highlights below...
Gene Principe of Sportsnet with the feature.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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