The thing about ugly wins as they count the same as pretty wins.
Would the Blue Jackets like to play a tighter and more structured game? Of course.
Would they like to score another power play goal before too long? Preferably.
But a look at the Metropolitan Division standings reveals their 4-1-0 record a share of the Eastern Conference’s top spot through five games. As much as they’d like to pick a few games apart (well, the coach might want to) and dissect their shortcomings, they’re finding ways to accumulate points and keep the train on its tracks.
A few years ago, you’d be hard-pressed to say previous Blue Jackets teams could wiggle their way out of trouble the way this one can. It’s a quality that the NHL’s top teams all have, and now the Blue Jackets appear to be adding a layer of stubbornness to their repertoire.
That should bring a smile to John Tortorella’s face.
In their five games, the Blue Jackets have blown out the New York Islanders thanks in part to a woeful goaltending performance from Thomas Greiss. That game was effectively decided after the second period and they cruised to a 5-0 win. The next night, they had the favor returned by the Chicago Blackhawks, who scored 15 goals in their first two games.
They clawed their way through an ugly game last Tuesday in Raleigh, getting the extra point despite a late-game turnover that allowed the Hurricanes to force overtime. With a half-full building and little atmosphere to speak of, the Blue Jackets had to manufacture their emotional attachment to the game and Sonny Milano lit the fuse.
They’re 3-for-3 against divisional opponents after a come-from-behind win over the New York Rangers on Friday. Down 1-0 with 20 minutes left, the Blue Jackets played their best period of the season and walked away with a regulation win.
So far, they’ve yet to be dominant and they’ve yet to impose their game for 60 minutes. But the results say they’re 4-1-0 with eight of 10 points to start, and they’ll gladly begin there.
“It’s great that we found a way to come back and win…we have to figure out a way to start on time and be ready to go,” forward Cam Atkinson said after Saturday’s comeback win in Minnesota.
Aside from two rather improbable points, the silver lining from Saturday was a role reversal between the Blue Jackets and their goaltender; for all the games in which Bobrovsky has spearheaded a win when his team isn’t playing well, the Blue Jackets picked up their goalie and scored five goals to help him out.
Tortorella wasn’t shy in calling out Bobrovsky’s poor outing, but was unwilling to single out specific players when the end result — a win — was the product of a mentality he’s been pushing on them since he arrived.
“They’re honest,” Tortorella said. “If you have some honesty about your game, you can find your way out of situations like this when you’re not dead-on. There are things that can be fixed, I think we will fix them, but sometimes I just don’t get ‘em. We have a good group of guys. They hung in there. I’m thrilled about the different situation we’ve been put in through five games — that’s what’s great about our game, we don’t know what the hell’s going to happen.”
Not sure that Tortorella finds that aspect truly “great," but he’s encouraged by the attitude his team is bringing to the table. Some teams would’ve packed it in and looked ahead to Tuesday, but the Blue Jackets seem to have a belief that they’re always in a game.
And on nights when they don’t have it, they can at least start there.
“It’s a group of guys that pulled together and found a way to win in the third period,” Tortorella said. “You don’t want to draw it up this way, but it’s all good. You go through all the different situations. It’s all good when you get the two points.”