Around these parts, we’ll do our best to give you everything you need to know about the Columbus Blue Jackets. We’ll also fill you in on the stories you may not have heard about (or those you didn’t think you need to know about), the social media buzz around the league, along with a few random nuggets for good measure.
Think of it as your morning coffee with a shot of Blue Jackets talk.
THE GOD DAMNED RADIO: Before last night's thrilling Game 4 win, John Tortorella was doing his best to keep the mood loose and jovial for his players. They were looking at an improbable deficit against a formidable and confident opponent, so you'd be hard to fault them for feeling slightly pessimistic. For those unfamiliar, here's how this begins: the players have a post-game playlist that they blare in the locker room after wins. Sometimes, it's predictable ("We Dem Boyz" was a popular one a couple years ago) and other it's not ("Timber" by Ke$ha)...regardless, the point is that if you win, you get to let it fly.
The Blue Jackets hadn't won a game in the series, so Tortorella told them after their morning workout that he wanted them to have a chance to play their music. Tortorella is 59 years old and was raised on the East Coast, so there's at least a 60 percent chance of him being a Bruce Springsteen fan. The irony here is that, with those character traits, he's got a lot in common with most sports writers.
A real plot twist would have Torts as a big Drake fan, but I digress.
Columbus won the game, 5-4, the franchise's first-ever playoff win in regulation, and hot damn that radio was blasting after the game. Good for them.
TOUGH, BUT FAIR: Sergei Bobrovsky makes more than $8 million per season on a long-term contract. He's paid like one of the top players in the world, and among the elite at his position. It is absolutely within reason to criticize his play in this series, and really, his playoff career on the whole. He has been terrific in the regular season (and is the front-runner for the Vezina Trophy once again) but the postseason brings about a different Bob, a Bob that doesn't help his team win.
The "Bob needs to be better" conversation has grown louder and louder in recent days. You know what? That's great. Bring it on. Beginning with the local talk radio criticism of Brandon Saad last week, this is another positive step for the Blue Jackets in the Columbus sports landscape: you want the media holding the star players accountable. It establishes an expectation, which fosters pressure, which leads to motivation. It's all good. Bob shouldn't be exempt.
The Blue Jackets subreddit had an in-depth thread on this yesterday. It's worth a read.
Tortorella was asked about it following last night's win, and he stood up for his goaltender. Bobrovsky was much better in Game 4 and made some key early saves before the Blue Jackets' offense and forechecking took control of the game.
STOP HITTING YOURSELF: Analytics bring out the best and worst in the hockey community. On one hand, the information is super-interesting and provides great value to the space. You can learn a lot from studying trends and pattern-based data in the realm of shot attempts, zone starts, etc. But it also draws people into petty arguments, name-calling, and general stuff that adults should steer clear of.
I'm bringing this up because Scott Hartnell was asked about the subject of hitting. Physical contact is inevitable in hockey, but the reality is that if you're spending a lot of time hitting, well, you're also spending a lot of time chasing the game. The Blue Jackets were a fast, play-making team for most of the season, so why abandon it now? They seem to have focused on finishing checks and physically intimidating the Penguins, which doesn't seem like a great idea.
WHAT IN THE WORLD: Zach Werenski's tweet after Game 3 displaying his facial injuries spread like wildfire across social media. The next morning, Tortorella announced that Werenski's season was over. One Blue Jackets fan felt it best to pay tribute to Werenski's tremendous season (and perhaps his toughness, as well) by creating this work of art to wear down in the Arena District for Game 4.
Credit to Werenski, too, who noticed the photo of the t-shirt and made sure the fan got an autographed jersey out of it. Cool story.
ICYMI: Markus Nutivaara and Kyle Quincey finally drew into the lineup for Game 4 against Pittsburgh and played pretty darn well, with Nutivaara recording a goal and an assist ... The 1OB staff tackled some tough questions about the Blue Jackets' present and future ... If you needed proof that it was insanely loud at Nationwide Arena last night, you should watch this.