“We’ll be back here for Game 7.”
Add John Tororella to the long list of people in sport guaranteeing a win. Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock did the exact same thing last season. After a Game 5 loss on the road to these same Washington Capitals, Babcock told every Verizon Center employee he saw “see you in a couple days.”
Babcock never did see those staff members again that season, as the Leafs lost Game 6 and were eliminated. Tortorella and the Blue Jackets will look to avoid a similar fate tonight.
This time, things will be different. The Leafs were the heavy underdogs last year against the Capitals, but the Blue Jackets are not. The way the Blue Jackets played in Game 5 should give everyone incredible confidence going into tonight. If they play like they did in Game 5, they will have no issues winning Game 6.
The Blue Jackets put up 42 shots and allowed just 29 in their Game 5 overtime loss. In the regular season, teams that did that had a 96-72-12 record. The Blue Jackets did this seven times during the season and went 4-3-0. It’s not the perfect formula, but if you're consistently outshooting your opponent, you're going to win more games than you lose.
More importantly, Game 5 was the first time all series that we saw the Blue Jackets of the regular season. This is a team that controlled the pace of the game at 5-on-5 and piled up the shots. During the season, the Blue Jackets averaged 34.1 shots per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. In Game 5, they had 36.2 shots per 60, the first time all series they have been above their season average.
As many have said all series, if the Blue Jackets would be fine if they could just stay of out of the penalty box. Well, they finally did in the third period of Game 5, and what a period that was. You’d be lucky to hold the Buffalo Sabres to a single shot in a period and the Jackets were able to hold Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals to a one-shot period. They're not going to be able to do that again, but this what the Blue Jackets are capable of when things are going right. They like to have the puck and they don’t like to give it up.
Nationwide Arena is going to be rocking tonight. The Blue Jackets must feed off that energy and use it to their advantage. They have to own the puck, and by doing that it will help cut down on some of those penalties they have been taking. If they can do that, I have complete confidence in this statement:
Jackets in seven.