John Tortorella Wants the Blue Jackets Power Play to "Be More Creative"

By Chris Pennington on October 23, 2019 at 3:07 pm
The Columbus Blue Jackets currently have the 24th ranked man-advantage in the league, converting on just four of their 28 chances good for a rate of 14.29%.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

John Tortorella has always said "safe is death."

Right now, the Columbus Blue Jackets' power play is playing safe. And it's dying.

Columbus currently owns the 24th ranked man advantage in the NHL, converting on just four of its 28 chances good for a rate of 14.29%. This isn't new, by the way. The club finished 28th last season and 25th the year prior. 

Point a finger at Brad Larsen if you'd like, which at this point, is becoming a bit of a lazy take. At some point, the players themselves need to execute and look within. Tortorella knows this to be true.

"I do believe a big problem with our power play is we're not creative enough," Tortorella told 97.1 on "Hockey & Hounds" Wednesday. "We're playing on the outside with it. We're spending too much time trying to get to those spots. We need to be more instinctive, creative and make plays that are there."

Quick decision-making is part of what separates an average power play from a great power play. With aggressive penalty-killing strategies that many teams are adopting, it's not about setting up the perfect chance. It's about jumping into opportunities and taking a risk, knowing you have one more guy on the ice than the other team to back you up if you lose the puck.

"If you see it, go with it," Tortorella said. "I'd like to see us attack the net. I'd like our offensive players to take control of it a little more based on what they see on the ice."

Tortorella doesn't just mean forwards when he says "offensive players." On Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, the team will break out a new lineup for the first and second power play units, with Seth Jones and Zach Werenski being on the primary. 

Jones and Werenski are natural facilitators, and their instinct in offensive-zone situations is elite. In back-to-back games last postseason, we saw this on display.

"They're two of our most creative people 5 on 5." – John Tortorella on Seth Jones and Zach Werenski

Here, Jones jumps up in a play unprompted and immediately fires off a wrist shot for a game-winning goal. No hesitation. No look if there's another pass he can make. Just rips it.

In this play, the Blue Jackets win the draw clean, and Werenski gathers control of the puck.  Usually in this situation, most players would slowly gather the puck and survey their options. Werenski saw his chance, though. Who cares if it's three seconds into the man advantage?

Tortorella's message is clear: Take chances, take risks, go with what you see. Starting Thursday night, he hopes to see a new era in the Blue Jackets power play.

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