Zach Werenski had a World Junior tournament that he'll never forget.
The only thing missing, of course, was a gold medal.
But his American team, of which he was named captain shortly before the tournament began, picked itself up after a crushing semifinal loss to Russia and dominated Sweden in the bronze medal game. They wanted to go out as winners, and with an 8-3 victory, they did just that -- and Werenski lead the way.
He was one of Ron Wilson's most relied-upon players, sometimes logging over 30 minutes per game in all situations, and in some games it felt as though he never left the ice. At both ends of the rink, Werenski was impressive, showing the patience, poise and creativity that he was known for when the Blue Jackets selected him No. 8 overall in 2015.
PITTSBURGH – Just another showdown between the Blue Jackets and the Penguins, and just another day filled with newsworthy items.
Those two are, in fact, interconnected.
We covered the possibility of both team captains (Nick Foligno and Sidney Crosby) missing tonight’s game due to injury and that possibility is now fact. Mike Sullivan and John Tortorella – two very good friends and longtime coworkers – each confirmed the absence of their captain for tonight’s game at CONSOL Energy Center.
And while those are two significant absences for two teams looking to gain some traction before the holiday break, both the Blue Jackets and Penguins have to move by it and follow the old “worry about who’s here” mantra.
PITTSBURGH -- Both the Blue Jackets and Penguins may be without their respective captains for Monday’s clash at CONSOL Energy Center.
Nick Foligno did not practice on Sunday afternoon at Nationwide Arena and is considered questionable. On the Penguins side, Sidney Crosby was absent from their Sunday skate and coach Mike Sullivan told reporters that Crosby is day-to-day with a lower body injury.
Sullivan added that Crosby suffered the injury during the third period of Pittsburgh’s 2-1 loss to Carolina on Saturday night, while Tortorella told media Foligno was “nicked up” during Saturday’s game against the Flyers.
The latest installment of this budding Metropolitan Division rivalry has plenty of stuff going on, beginning with the Blue Jackets and their continued search for consistency.
First thing's first: Ryan Johansen will be back in the Blue Jackets lineup tonight.
John Tortorella can't say it enough that scratching players is never the go-to option and should, in most scenarios, be considered a last resort. But there were things in Johansen's game that both coach and player admitted were trending in the wrong direction, so the decision was to sit him for Thursday's game in Arizona.
In the time between Thursday and now, the coaching staff spent time with Johansen reviewing video, going over shifts and then translating that into what they expect from him. Tortorella considered it a "reset" for his 23-year-old center, and he's expecting a positive response form Johansen tonight.
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella (jokingly?) alluded on Monday morning that he wasn’t even sure of his rookie goaltender’s last name.
It didn’t take long before Joonas Korpisalo made a profound impact on not only the bench boss, but the rest of the team.
He was confident, calm and embraced the stage of his first career start against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 21-year-old Finn got into the game right away, making a big stop on Lightning sniper Nikita Kucherov and also robbing Alex Killorn on a breakaway.
Korpisalo, called up on an emergency basis with Sergei Bobrovsky nursing a groin strain, didn’t get the win in his NHL debut, but he did enough to earn himself another start tonight.
The Blue Jackets are a young team, and several players can vividly recall the feelings and emotions that Joonas Korpisalo is likely experiencing today.
The 21-year-old Korpisalo, called up from Lake Erie (AHL) last week in the wake of Sergei Bobrovsky’s groin injury, will make his NHL debut tonight when the Blue Jackets face the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nationwide Arena.
With another set of back-to-back games on tap – Tampa Bay tonight and then tomorrow night against the Dallas Stars – John Tortorella wanted to get Korpisalo a start in one of the two games while also giving Curtis McElhinney a night off. Tonight’s game and the scheduling behind it seemed to make sense, and thus Korpisalo gets the call tonight with the Blue Jackets needing two points in the worst way.
“Consistency” is the word most often used in sports when a team struggles. The team isn’t consistently playing at a high level, or isn’t consistently doing what it needs to do to achieve the desired result.
Count the Blue Jackets in that camp. They’ve been searching for a way to bottle their play from performances such as last Saturday's win in Philadelphia and a couple of weeks ago against Pittsburgh (among others), and turn those into the expectation or the standard.
There have been too many games like Florida and Los Angeles – both in the last 10 days – that are cause for pause and, in some cases, concern.
“To become consistent, it is a constant preparation mentally, understanding your team concept, buying into your team concept and consistently working at good habits,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said this morning.
The Blue Jackets have points in each of their last three games, but only one of those is a victory.
And the process to earn those points has been a wild pattern of inconsistency that’s got coach John Tortorella flummoxed. Why does a strong performance in Montreal get answered by a lackluster effort against Florida, let alone on home ice?
Why does a complete, 60-minute game against the Flyers get followed up by a game on Tuesday against the Kings in which they were fortunate to secure a single point?
Tortorella doesn’t have the answers yet, but in some cases, that’s okay. The Blue Jackets are by and large a young team that’s still finding their way, but their trend of peaks and valleys could use some smoothing out if they’re going to claw their way back into the conversation.
So, does the coach have an idea of where his team stands entering this game?
The Blue Jackets got their news on Sergei Bobrovsky this afternoon, and it's not very good.
Bobrovsky, who left Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings with 5:35 left in regulation, was to be re-evaluated by team medical personnel today. It was determined, after said evaluation, that Bobrovsky will miss three weeks with a lower body injury, GM Jarmo Kekalainen said tonight.
Prior to leaving the game against the Kings, Bobrovsky had made 33 saves on 34 shots and was the sole reason that Columbus hung around in the game and carried a lead into the third period.
His 27-save performance in Saturday's win over the Flyers boosted his record to 4-1-0 with a .947 save percentage in his last five starts, continuing an impressive rebound after an uncharacteristic slow start to the 2015-16 season.
The Blue Jackets had no business getting even a point out of Tuesday's game without the services of their No. 1 goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky.
He made several incredible saves, some that he didn't even see, to keep Columbus ahead by the slimmest of margins deep into regulation. With over 14 minutes gone by in the third period and his team leading 2-1, Bobrovsky was up to 33 saves as the Los Angeles Kings spent most of the game in his end of the ice.
And with less than six minutes left (5:35 to be exact), he had to leave the game.
After the Blue Jackets had iced the puck, head athletic trainer Mike Vogt jumped off the bench and went to visit Bobrovsky. A minute or so of consultation later, Bobrovsky left the ice with Vogt, went down the tunnel and did not return.