"Well, shit, huh?"
Those were John Tortorella's first words after the Blue Jackets' 16-game winning streak came to an end in Washington. It felt rather applicable here, too.
An early 2-0 lead did not hold for the Blue Jackets prospects, who yielded territory in the second period and allowed the Chicago Blackhawks to get back in the game. We'll leave the nitty-gritty details to my colleague Sam Blazer's recap, but it was a bit odd that the Blue Jackets could not build upon their early momentum.
In previous years at this tournament, they've had "the look" as soon as they sensed doubt in their opponent. Not this time.
They've made it an annual tradition to be in title contention in Traverse City. It's good for the players and it's good for the organization. This year was no different, one win away from their third win in four years and fifth overall (which would have passed St. Louis for the most in tournament history).
It wasn't their night, but certain individual performances from important names should make the coming week(s) even more compelling.
- Remember Thurkauf's name...seriously. With training camp opening later this week and the Blue Jackets not set in their bottom six, Thurkauf is poised to make a run. He wasn't a passenger on the top line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Vitaly Abramov -- he was making plays, creating space and getting to the net. Seven points (one goal, six assists) in the four games opened a lot of eyes.
- The Blue Jackets went with a goaltending rotation throughout the tournament, which meant Ivan Kulbakov got the nod in the championship game. He played well in the first period, was beaten by a pair of quality plays in the second period and fell victim to a brutal bounce in overtime. We'll say this much: the Cleveland Monsters may be in good shape between the pipes with two young goaltenders like Kulbakov and Matiss Kivlenieks.
- Gabriel Carlsson just looks solid. Steady, sturdy. He's in a good spot entering his first full NHL season.
- We'll be covering this story more than is probably healthy, but Dubois started his full-time NHL candidacy on the right foot this week. The Blue Jackets wanted him to play like a No. 1 center with this group, and for the most part, he did so. Next on the agenda is keeping the ball rolling for main camp and finding yet another level.