Will Domi boost Blue Jackets’ offense, or draw wrath of Tortorella?

Will Domi be the boost for Blue Jackets that Tortorella expects?
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Last week, John Tortorella told The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline that he hopes the Max Domi trade can help the Blue Jackets open up their offense.

Tortorella believes Domi trade could open up Blue Jackets’ offense

During that interview with Portzline (sub required), Tortorella hoped that Blue Jackets team that “worked so hard to score a goal” in 2019-20 might enjoy a few more of those “Bang! It’s in the net”-type plays.

(That’s only slightly paraphrased from Torts.)

“ … This is the next step for this team, and I think having Domi there in our top six and on the power play can really help us,” Tortorella said to Portzline. We believe in our goalies now. We’ve got four top defensemen. We know how to play defense, with our forwards and defensemen. Now we have to open ourselves up more and try to make something more happen offensively, and we can do that.”

Via Portzline, Tortorella envisions Domi with Gustav Nyquist or Nick Foligno on a second line with Cam Atkinson. Meanwhile, a first line could be something like Pierre-Luc Dubois, Alexandre Texier, and Oliver Bjorkstrand.

Naturally, such lines can change from day to day in training camp, let alone during the rigors of a season. But it’s still interesting to learn how Tortorella at least pictures things. (On a similar note … Nyquist – Domi – Atkinson sort of sounds more like a top line than the other one, am I right? Maybe? I guess it’s semantics, mostly.)

Why that might be true, and why this might not work

At worst, Tortorella is saying all the right things about how Domi might change the Blue Jackets for the better.

Where Josh Anderson could give the Canadiens the size and snarl they believe they lack on offense, Domi could inject speed and creativity into Columbus’ mix. It’s fun to picture Domi and Nyquist picking apart defenders with their precision passing. Although, maybe such skills might be best spread throughout the Blue Jackets’ offense?

Ideally, the Blue Jackets could maintain much of their stingy defense, while becoming more dangerous offensively.

After all, as much as the Lightning dominated the puck during their series during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, every Columbus loss was by a single goal. That included two overtime losses, highlighted by that historic five-OT Game 1. Would a little bit of offense nudged Columbus over the finish line at key times?


But, of course, it’s rare for things to go exactly as planned once you get on the ice.

While Tortorella praised Domi’s attitude to Portzline, the speedy playmaker also is the type of player who can drive coaches crazy. Even the less … fiery ones than Torts.

Simply put, Domi’s career so far indicates that you must take the good with the bad (and plenty of both). This multiseason Evolving Hockey RAPM chart is one way to see how Domi is a double-edged sword of dynamic offense and sometimes-dismal defense:

Max Domi Blue Jackets offseason Tortorella Evolving Hockey RAPM
via Evolving Hockey

Come on, doesn’t that chart scream “Player who will make Tortorella mad enough to get fined during a press conference?”

Will Domi fit, or will Torts throw fits? (Maybe both?)

In the past, Tortorella hasn’t been shy to clash with a player like, say, Anthony Duclair.

Perhaps that’s part of the fun, though. If you’re not a Blue Jackets fan, maybe you grab your popcorn and just wait for Domi and Torts to have tensions blow over?

A lot can change for the Blue Jackets even beyond Domi fitting in nicely or being stuck in Tortorella’s doghouse. Their goaltending could collapse a year later than people wondered. Yet things could also all come together; at minimum, it’s easy to imagine Domi helping Columbus improve on a power play that only scored at 16.4-percent success rate.

Either way, it should be interesting to watch, whether it’s during a Domi rush or a Tortorella tantrum.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.


The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).


Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

“We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.