The Blue Jackets are in the midst of a rough patch, but coach John Tortorella is preaching patience and exuding confidence as the team tries to navigate bumpy waters and maintain a wild card position in the Eastern Conference.
On Thursday's media availability following the team's practice at Nationwide Arena, Tortorella covered a myriad of topics and gave a lot of insights to the state of his club.
"First, we're trying to go shorter minutes, but quicker minutes. One of our points of emphasis is playing fast, and I think we need to get our practice habits back. During that stretch in January, we just don't have any games. You're not playing at game speed at all, and you practice, and practice, and have time off... I just want us to get our mindset thinking quick, and then playing quick. The past few practices, it's been more up-tempo and we're going to try to concentrate on that."
Nick Foligno in his media availability echoed his coaches sentiments, saying that the team is susceptible to losing focus as practices drag on.
BOONE JENNER'S GAME
"It's been a litte bit of a struggle for (Jenner). The game speed, as I watched the video of the last game...he's just not involved. He just seems to be a step behind. He's trying, but it's just not quick enough right now as far as his pace."
Pretty brutal comments from his coach there, though Tortorella did add later on: "Deep in my heart, I just believe he's going to get it done, just because of who he is and the way he handles himself. I'm certainly not going to give up on him."
Jenner's name has recently been tied to some trade activity, and while these words won't do much to build up his reputation around the league, it's safe to say that the other 30 NHL GMs are aware of his struggles. Jenner is two years removed from a 30-goal campaign and has scored just five goals this year (while shooting 4.4%).
RYAN MURRAY'S STATUS
After he spoke for nearly a minute about Jenner, Tortorella was much more succinct in his evaluation of Ryan Murray. When asked about his injured defensemen, Tortorella appeared visibly irritated and snapped back:
"When Murr gets back, we'll talk about Murr. I have no idea what's going on with Murr. No idea."
Pretty much sums it up, right? Clearly, Tortorella is frustrated by Murray's timeline to get back in the lineup, and he wouldn't even entertain the idea of his return. Coincidentally, Murray practiced in full equipment with the team on Thursday for the first time in weeks.
DAD'S TRIP 2018
Ah, the annual dad's trip, where the players' fathers accompany the team for a road game or two. Tortorella admitted he didn't used to have them.
"Earlier in my career, I never had them. I took the fun out of everything. As you get older, you start thinking about that stuff. I’ve always thought about players’ families. I just didn’t want them around me & players when we were working."
“It can’t hurt us right now. Maybe you get some juice that they’re playing in front of their dad."
Fathers come from all over the world – literally, as Nick Foligno pointed out that they're are here from Finland, Sweden, and Russia. And as Foligno said, "Whether you like to admit it or not, everybody wants to play well in front of their dad... All the guys, we light up when we see the dads."
Perhaps the minor distraction that this trip provides can alleviate the frustrations of an 0-3-1 skid. We'll find out tonight in Washington.