It seemed last year the Columbus Blue Jackets were turning the corner in being a contender for the Stanley Cup, well it didn’t start off well for them at all. Todd Richards the coach at the time lost his first 8 games of the season and was ultimately fired and replaced by current bench boss John Tortorella. That 2015-2016 season didn’t go all the well for the Jackets finishing the season 34-40-8, the power play was awful clicking a just over 17% and the penalty kill at over 81% and injuries to keys players and under performing as a whole. They gave up over 31 shots a game while only averaging 29 shots a game while giving up the 2nd most goals against per game at 248.
Fast forward to this year and it’s a completely different story, as of now they are sitting with a 47-19-7 record and are 3rd in the Metro with a chance to take the top spot and a shot at the President’s trophy for the leagues top team. Their goals against has almost been cut in half only giving up 168 goals this year, their power play is clicking over 20% and led the league in the power play stats for much of the season, the penalty kill has been killing off man advantages at just under 83% which is among the best in the league this year. Averaging 3.14 goals per game is also among the best in the league too.
I believe that these results are definitely a direct result on how Tortorella coaches his teams, he is a tough coach who expects you to play hard night in and out. Having won a Stanley Cup back in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he knows what it takes to win, and has instilled that in Columbus. I knew it would take time to get the team to believe in the direction Torts was taking them, but I never would have believed that the turn around for the Jackets would bring them to the cusp of greatness. Seth Jones, Cam Atkinson, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Zach Werenski would lead the Jackets to the spot they are in now.
Tortorella has helped Columbus set franchise records with a 16 game winning streak, and a drubbing of the Canadiens, where Columbus put up 10 goals, and went 14-0 in the month of December. I have to say this has been one of the more impressive turn arounds I’ve seen in recent memory. I do think that Columbus can make a deep run in the playoffs if they can play at the top of their game and no one is better at making players drive and excel than Tortorella.