John Tortorella’s interactions with the media are, at the very least, interesting. The Blue Jackets coach confirmed that when he guaranteed a Game 7 return to Boston following the Bruins’ thrilling 4-3 win in Game 5 Saturday night.
“Things happen for a reason. We have chances to tie it again,” Tortorella said. “Things happen for a reason, and I truly believe that. We’ll be back here for Game 7.”
John Tortorella to reporter after Game 5 loss: "Don't ask stupid questions right now guys, ask me some questions that mean something" pic.twitter.com/9XbRrFbWMb— NESN (@NESN) May 5, 2019
What else should he say? The last thing any coach wants to do is plant a seed of doubt for his team heading into a must-win Game 6 in Columbus.
The media, of course, pounced on Tortorella’s bold postgame claim on Saturday night. This isn’t his first go-around with guarantees though. He made the same claim after the Capitals’ Game 5 win in Washington during last year’s first round series. That didn’t turn out well, as the Caps earned a Game 6 win en route to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
But Torts didn’t stop there. On Monday, he gave the assembled press more juice for online clicks when he discussed the play of Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.
He may be onto something. Rask had another solid outing in Game 5, but his three goals allowed all came in the third period against a desperate Blue Jackets bunch.
“I think one of the bigger points in our last game, in Game 5, is that we dented their goalie. I think that was very important,” Tortorella said prior to Game 6. “I think they dented our goalie. We’ve dented their goalie in that third period, which is very important going into Game 6.”
Let’s put this in perspective. The question directed at Torts was about needing more from Columbus’ top offensive players, like Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson. They’re in a similar situation that the likes of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak faced earlier in the series.
But Boston’s top players showed up in the last two games. Pastrnak’s Game 5 outing, in general, put the Black and Gold in this spot following his two clutch goals, including the game-winner late in regulation.
The Bruins’ top guys were quiet in the first three games of the series. Yet, Brandon Carlo noticed something after Game 3 in Sergei Bobrovsky even as the Bruins had no answer for Columbus’ stellar netminder.
“The secondary saves that he’s making are very impressive. But he’s definitely going to crack at some point,” Carlo told reporters after Bobrovsky’s 36-save outing in Game 3. “I have a lot of faith that we’re going to be putting pucks past him pretty soon.”
Bobrovsky indeed became human. The Bruins scored four goals each in Games 4 and 5. Yet, the two-time Vezina Winner gave his team a chance to win with a handful of stellar saves on Thursday and Saturday nights.
Solving Bobrovsky again won’t be easy. The same holds true for Rask, who’s given up 11 goals in five games this series. Both goalies have provided plenty of highlight-reel moments between the pipes. Rask’s .936 save percentage and Bobrovsky’s .925 save percentage prove that offense hasn’t been easy to come by.
Maybe we’re due for an offensive outburst in Game 6. But the Bruins now have some bulletin board material from Tortorella. The Blue Jackets had the same earlier in this series with Carlo. They didn’t do much with it, though.