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

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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: Tortorella calm, analytical following loss to Jets

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John Tortorella’s most famous dealings with the media tend to be the ones with, let’s say an edge to them, but the new Blue Jackets bench boss was calm and reflective following last night’s 3-2 loss to Winnipeg.

The general theme was that the Blue Jackets need to rebuild their confidence.

“I know it’s in the room, I know they’re better players offensively. We’re going to try to allow them to play and hopefully something happens the right way and it snowballs,” Tortorella said.

Some might have hoped that event already happened when the Blue Jackets won back-to-back contests, ending their season-opening eight-game losing streak. However, they’ve lost two games since then, dropping to 2-10-0 this season.

All of Columbus’ recent contests have been close and that at least is a change. Still, the at best mixed results towards the end of the month emphasize just how deep a whole the Blue Jackets are in. After all, this is a team that’s already nine months behind in the playoff race.

Tortorella did briefly touch on something else during the presser: That this is a young squad. There was a fair amount of hype about Columbus going into the campaign, which makes what’s happened all the more painful, but the core of this squad is almost entirely compromised of players still in their 20s. Brandon Saad and Ryan Johansen are just 23 and they could end up being a great duo for years to come.

So there’s still reason for cautious optimism in Columbus, even if this campaign is already looking bleak.

You can see Tortorella’s full press conference here:

PHT Morning Skate: Working with Tortorella

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Quite a few players were interviewed to discuss their experiences with new Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella. (Columbus Dispatch)

Remembering the debut of the “Russian Five,” which had its 20-year anniversary on Tuesday. (NHL.com)

Here are the highlights from St. Louis’ 2-0 victory over Tampa Bay:

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie recalls his time South Florida as a child. Or more specifically, his interactions with Roberto Luongo, Peter Worrell, and a washing machine. (Denver Post)

Jeff Garlin from Curb Your Enthusiasm got a goal while playing the Chicago Blackhawks’ Shoot the Puck game. (CSN Chicago)

Things are falling into place for Adam Henrique now that his wrist is fully healed. (Bergen Record)

Tomas Hertl seems to be back on track after a rough sophomore campaign. (CSN Bay Area)

PHT Morning Skate: Hartley predicts friendlier relationship with Tortorella this time

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley thinks things will be friendlier between him and John Tortorella now that they’re in different conferences. (Wes Gilbertson)

While we’re on the subject of Tortorella, if you missed it before, here’s a look back at his greatest soundbites:

After being shutout by Montreal on Tuesday, St. Louis Blues forward Steve Ott remarked that the Canadiens “defensive system is Carey Price.” (Fox Sports)

GoPro released a video featuring U.S. Olympian Hilary Knight, which both discusses the importance of being comfortable with yourself and shows off her skills on the ice:

Here are the highlights from Philadelphia’s 5-4 overtime win against Boston last night:

Capitals coach Barry Trotz attended a practice that his two nephews were a part of and gave their excited teammates some pointers. (Calgary Sun)

Nathan Gerbe on the advantages of meditation. (The News & Observer)

Jackets confirm hiring of Tortorella, a ‘coach with a proven track record of success’

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The Columbus Blue Jackets have confirmed today’s big news that Todd Richards has been fired as head coach and replaced by John Tortorella.

“After much deliberation and discussion, we have made the very difficult decision late last night to remove Todd Richards as our head coach and we’ve reached an agreement with John Tortorella to join the Columbus Blue Jackets in that capacity,” said GM Jarmo Kekalainen in a release.

“None of us saw our season unfolding the way it has and every one of us from management to coaches to players bears responsibility. There is still a lot of hockey to be played and we believe this change was necessary to give our team the best chance to accomplish the goals we’ve set for this season.”

On his new coach, Kekalainen said: “John Tortorella is an experienced National Hockey League coach with a proven track record of success. He is a Stanley Cup winner and we believe the right person to lead our team at this time.”

The Jackets will hold a press conference shortly.