<span class="vcard">Mike Halford</span>

John Tortorella

There’s another Tortorella-led team priding itself on blocked shots


John Tortorella is stressing the need for shot blocking.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

A few years back, as you’ll recall, Tortorella turned the New York Rangers into a bunch of bladed Mutombos, developing a defensive system and philosophy predicated on skaters — forwards and defensemen, specifically — getting in the way of pucks before the goalie did.

Now, that same system is at play in Columbus.

The Blue Jackets had one of their best wins of the season on Friday, beating Nashville 4-0. Most were quick to praise the work of Sergei Bobrovsky — who stopped all 39 shots faced for his first shutout of the year — but Bobrovsky was quick to praise the guys in front of him.

“There were so many blocked shots in that first period,” Bobrovsky said, per the Dispatch. “Fourteen of them, I think. That’s more than I stopped.”

All told, the Jackets blocked a season-high 26 shots against the Preds. And while most will argue these numbers aren’t actually a good thing — allowing 39 shots while blocking 26 means you’re rarely possessing the puck — the Jackets acknowledge this is now part of their identity.

Ryan Johansen told the Dispatch the team talks about shot blocking “a lot,” adding that it’s on frequent display during the club’s video sessions. Johansen also added that Tortorella “takes notice” of players that do it.

Torts, of course, has a strange relationship with shot-blocking.

He says he doesn’t necessarily coach it, insisting it’s a natural part of good team defense. And in 2012 — when pundits carved the Rangers during their block-filled playoff run, saying the style of hockey was borderline unwatchable — Torts got angry.

In response, he called critics of shot blocking “idiots” before explaining his strategic approach.

“We don’t sit in our meetings and say forget about carrying the puck and trying to score a goal and make a play, let’s just block shots all night long,” he said.

Here’s the thing, though: The mentality needed to feverishly block shots is sort of what Columbus needed when Tortorella took over. He always stresses that shot blocking is about sacrifice, grit and doing whatever it takes to win — and after getting so far behind the 8-ball with their 0-7 start, the Jackets were desperate to where they’d do anything to win.

And now, they’ve won six of their last nine games.

Video: Gerbe hurt, won’t return after big hit from Clifford


Carolina forward Nathan Gerbe was forced from Sunday’s game against Los Angeles midway through the first period, after a heavy check from Kings forward Kyle Clifford.

Gerbe had to be helped off the ice by teammates and stayed off for the remainder of the frame. Teammate Brad Malone stepped in to fight Clifford, and the pair both received majors — Clifford wasn’t penalized for the actual hit.

Late in the first intermission, Carolina announced that Gerbe wouldn’t return to the contest.

The 28-year-old had gotten off to a slow start this year, with just one goal and three points in 19 games, but is a lineup regular that averages over 15 minutes per night.

Bruins claim Ferraro off waivers from Detroit

Minnesota Wild v Detroit Red Wings

Landon Ferraro has a new home.

Ferraro, who’s spent his entire career with the Red Wings organization, has been claimed off waivers by the Bruins. The move comes after the 24-year-old appeared in 10 games for Detroit this season, going scoreless with seven penalty minutes.

The son of longtime NHLer-turned-analyst Ray Ferraro, Landon was the 32nd overall pick in 2009 but spent most of his time in AHL Grand Rapids, never really claiming a full-time spot with the parent club, though he did play in all seven of Detroit’s opening-round playoff games against Tampa Bay last year.

With Boston, he could get an opportunity for a more significant role.

The team is dealing with some injuries up front. Chris Kelly is basically done for the year with a fractured femur, David Pastrnak is out with a foot injury and Frank Vatrano is dealing with an upper-body ailment.

Of course, Ferraro is dealing with a knee injury of his own, so it’s unclear when he’ll be available for the B’s.

Preds claim Granberg off waivers from Toronto

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One of the NHL’s deepest bluelines has added more depth.

Per ESPN, the Nashville Predators have acquired Leafs d-man Petter Granberg off waivers. Granberg, 23, has appeared in eight career games for the Leafs but none this season, having torn his Achilles in June while training in his native Sweden.

Granberg was initially put on waivers so the Leafs could try to send him down to the Marlies.

A fourth-round pick in 2010, Granberg has spent most of the last two years in the American League, and that’s presumably where he’ll land within the Preds organization. The club’s defense is tremendously deep at the NHL level, so a trip to Milwaukee seems inevitable.

After Pavelec hurt in Doan collision, Jets recall prized prospect Hellebuyck


Could an unfortunate incident lead to a changing of the guard in Winnipeg?

We’re about to find out.

After Ondrej Pavelec was injured in a collision with Arizona’s Shane Doan on Saturday night, the Jets recalled prized goalie Connor Hellebuyck from AHL Manitoba.

Hellebuyck, 22, is considered one of hockey’s brightest young netminding prospects. An AHL All-Star last year, he impressed onlookers playing for Team USA at the 2015 Worlds, winning seven of eight games — including one over Pavelec and the Czechs in the bronze medal game.

Hellebuyck finished the tourney with a 1.39 GAA and .948 save percentage, putting him on the All-Star team alongside the likes of Brent Burns, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jaromir Jagr, Jason Spezza and Taylor Hall.

This year, Hellebuyck has a .927 save percentage and 2.41 GAA for the Moose.

As for Pavelec, the Jets have yet to update his condition, but it doesn’t look or sound good — per CTV, he left last night’s game on crutches.