Columbus’ John Tortorella: Bruins’ experience edge is ‘overrated’

Matt Kalman
April 24, 2019 - 12:38 pm

The Bruins leaned heavily on their experienced core to lead them in a comeback from 3-2 down to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the Eastern Conference first round.

Now with five Stanley Cup winners – Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask – leading the way the Bruins will have a smaller, but similar, experience advantage on the Columbus Blue Jackets when the Eastern Conference second round gets underway Thursday.

Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella was asked if he thinks that experience at playoff time is overrated, and he answered in the affirmative.

“Yeah, I think it’s overrated,” Tortorella said in a conference call Wednesday. “And I’m not saying that because I have an inexperienced team. I just … I wonder, and I’m not saying I’m right or wrong, but I wonder … innocence vs. experience. What is the pressure? How do people handle the pressure? Some of the things that go with young kids, and I’m watching it with a couple guys on our team, they’re just playing, they’re not worried about anything as far as pressure or the bright lights of media or surges in the game. They’re just playing the best way they can. So I’m not sure where you go with that, and I’ve always felt that way. …

“Listen, as I’ve said, I’m not speaking on Boston much … that’s a great organization, we have a tremendous amount of respect for them, we’re going to prepare the best way the Columbus Blue Jackets can prepare and we’re going to be ourselves to play this series.”

Tortorella wouldn’t compare the Bruins to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team Columbus defeated in four straight games in the first round. But he did address the nine-day layoff that the Blue Jackets will have endured by the time they start Game 1.

Columbus held a scrimmage game on Monday and practiced Tuesday before taking Wednesday off.

“Yeah, sure. That’s a question I’m sure that’s going to be asked because there’s just so many days off,” Tortorella said. “We tried to do it the right way. I think that each practice has gone on, yesterday was probably our best practice. I think once they know the team and there’s a date, I think that helps the players, and now they know it. But I don’t know what to expect. I think we’re prepared.

“We better be prepared to play a better first period in this series than we played our first period against Tampa. Because we just did not compete to any type of competitive standard in that first period, we just looked a little nervous there. So that can’t happen this first period.”

The Blue Jackets were behind 3-0 after that Game 1 first period against the Lightning. They won that game 4-3, setting the stage for their sweep.


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