An Embarrassing Night: Cam Atkinson, Seth Jones, and John Tortorella Sound Off After Blue Jackets' Big Loss to Hurricanes

By Jacob Nitzberg on February 15, 2021 at 10:38 pm
Feb 15, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes left wing Brock McGinn (23) is congratulated by left wing Teuvo Teravainen (86) defenseman Jake Bean (24) right wing Sebastian Aho (20) and defenseman Brady Skjei (76) after his goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period at PNC Arena.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

"We were soft all around tonight."

Cam Atkinson didn't pull any punches when discussing the Blue Jackets' performance tonight. 

"We have to be way better if we want to win in this league."

The Blue Jackets went up 2-0 and 3-1 tonight in the first period against the Hurricanes, and all seemed to be well. Then, the Hurricanes scored six (!!) unanswered goals and won 7-3. It could have been 8-3, had the Blue Jackets not won a challenge for offsides in the first period.

"I thought at times we had some good minutes, other times, we struggled," said head coach John Tortorella, whose team has struggled mightily to get the puck out of their own end as of late. The Blue Jackets have given up 6 or more goals three times in the last 13 days.

It's no secret that Tortorella wants his players to play hard in every facet of the game, and when he thinks players aren't trying hard enough, he'll pull them. A prime example is the benching of Patrik Laine last week. Dean Kukan, who made his return to the lineup tonight as Zach Werenski was out with a lower-body injury, had a sub-par showing, and Tortorella was visibly frusturated.

"There are certain players that are absolutely giving, there are certain players that aren't, and some who don't know how to. It's been a bit of a smorgasbord, in terms of effort," said Tortorella.

The second period was really what undid the Blue Jackets, who have been outscored 27-9 in the middle frame this season. No, that's not a typo.

"We have to find consistency. We played 10-15 minutes of good hockey, then they scored one, and we got deflated," said defenseman Seth Jones, who was +2 with two shots on goal on the night. "We have to find a way to play our identity for an entire 60 minutes and we just haven't done that yet."

"We're giving up some pretty easy goals...there's only so much (the goalies) can do on some of these backdoor tap-ins they're getting," Jones continued. 

"I'm not blaming Korpi, but Korpi's part of it, too," said Tortorella. "I didn't like the second goal."

Joonas Korpisalo was pulled after the second period. The Finnish netminder made 20 saves on 25 shots before making way for Elvis Merzlikins. 

There's no question about it. The Blue Jackets are not strong defensively, and when that's the beginning, middle, and end of your game plan, you're in trouble. Tortorella and co. will have to fix their issues in the defensive zone quickly if they want to contend for the playoffs this season.

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