COLUMBUS, Ohio – John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets are backed into a corner with the Bruins holding the upper hand in the series, and Columbus on the brink of elimination while down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series with Game 6 on tap at Nationwide Arena on Monday night.
So it’s in moments like these when Tortorella starts getting brash and employing the mental warfare tactics. First he guaranteed there would be a Game 7 after losing Game 5 at TD Garden on Saturday night, and now on the morning of Monday’s Game 6 he’s referring to Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask as “dented” after giving up three goals in the third period Saturday night.
Truth be told, the three goals scored by Columbus were more about a defense in front of him that was breaking down, and Rask still holds a dominant .936 save percentage thus far in the second-round series. There were no soft goals allowed by Rask during that sequence, and any notion that he’s been dented like an old clunker of a car is perhaps reaching for something.
Still it makes sense that Tortorella was attempting to get inside the goalie’s head with the Blue Jackets looking to get every edge in a do-or-die Game 6, and perhaps pump his own offensive players up a little bit at the same time.
“One of the biggest points in our last game, Game 5, is that I think we dented their goalie. I think that is very important,” said Tortorella. “I think they’ve dented our goalie and we dented their goalie in the third period. I think that’s very important going into Game 6.”
Tortorella went on to ring that bell again in the final question of his Monday morning press conference as a parting shot before the two clubs take the ice tonight.
“We’ve got to get some goal-scoring. We’ve two of the best goalies in the playoffs playing each other here. They have found a way to score some goals with their top guys. We have got to find a way to score some goals with our guys,” said Tortorella. “[Game 5] was a tough loss for us because we had a chance to go up 4-3, and we had chances to tie the game. But the biggest thing is that I think we put a dent in [Tuukka] Rask coming into Game 6 here. That’s so important for offensive people.”
“They might have dented the guys giving up quality chances in front of him for a minute there,” said David Backes with a light chuckle when appraised of Tortorella’s comments. “But I think we responded well. I don’t know that [the goals] were on Tuukka as much as they were on the guys in front of him. We’ll take that blame. I think Tuukka has been rock-solid for us the whole series, the whole playoffs and the whole year.”
Certainly, the experienced Blue Jackets bench boss is going to preach whatever he thinks will motivate his players, and get in the heads of his opponents at the same time. In the past there have been questions about Rask’s big game ability in the postseason, but he was solid in Game 7 vs. Toronto and he’s been stellar against Columbus in this series while outplaying Sergei Bobrovsky.
Tortorella may be grasping at straws while trying to gain an edge in an elimination game for his team, but truth be told the only goalie that seems “dented” right now in this series is the one that’s given up four goals in back-to-back games: Sergei Bobrovsky.
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