|"Die Sid, Die!"|
On the Blue Jackets' blue line, Kyle Quincey and Markus Nutivaara will take the place of Zach Werenski (out with an "upper body injury;" or, more specifically, "a broken face") and former Penguin Scott Harrington.
The benching of the entirely ineffective Hartnell is symbolic because it could signal a strategic capitulation from John Tortorella, which would be the hockey equivalence of a unicorn, or the acting equivalence of Nicolas Cage turning in an understated and subtle performance, which in turn would be the political equivalence of Donald Trump not lying, which in turn would be the Grammy equivalence of Kanye West letting someone accept their damn award...
....should I continue?
Yes? No? I'll assume no. All "Scotty Hartnell is a bitch" jokes aside (apparently necessary disclaimer: within this context, "bitch" is not a gender-based insult, but rather a sports-grounded commentary on Hartnell's thuggish and difficult behavior while on the ice), the fact that Tortorella would bench Hartnell– on his birthday no less!– is probably a sign that Torts is going to forego his previous strategy of "LET'S HIT THE PENGUINS UNTIL WE WIN!" in order to try and emerge victorious by way of scoring more goals (SPOILER ALERT: the latter strategy is the valid one).
The defensive changes are simultaneously necessary and desperate: without Werenski (a hell of a young player), the Blue Jackets' depth depth drops drastically (consonance YAY), and prior healthy scratch (and trade deadline acquisition) Kyle Quincey is the poster-child for "Just Another Guy."
There are two ways to interpret the roster decisions by Tortorella:
1) He's adjusting his roster to cater to a change in hockey philosophy
2) These are roster adjustments destined to find their way to future Tortorella resume in the form of a bullet point reading "Willing to Change Roster in Any Way to Attempt to Win"
The facts support both interpretations: Columbus CLEARLY came out of the chute in Games 1 & 2 with the idea of pressing the play, and to their credit, the strategy worked in terms of possession and shots on goal (YAAAAAAAAAY Corsi!), but in both cases, the Blue Jackets ended the first period without the lead.
In Game 3, the (tragically abbreviated) BJ's came out playing "hockey" and ended the first period with a 3-1 lead and looked as good as Marc-Andre Fleury looked bad (perhaps there's a connection between the two?).
ANYWAY....whatever the Blue Jackets have tried, they've failed and now sit three games down against the defending Stanley Cup Winner. I expect to see a different, more conservative team come out of the Blue Jackets in Game 4.
I expect this because Torts & Company have tried to win the other way (by being aggressive and checking constantly), and that (stubborn) insistence left the Blue Jackets in a 3-0 hold.
Expect to see a more wide-open game tonight, with Columbus willing to test Marc-Andre Fleury at every opportunity to try and win the game.
And really, HAPPY BIRTHDAY SCOTT HARTNELL. We've hated you for a long time, that's worthy of a candle on your cake, maybe 2!
The ultimate story is Tortorella will be whether or not he has the moxie to concede an early round mistake and do something to change it (which would indict him for making poor decisions early in the series).
All in all, I expect the Blue Jackets to come out trying to play a genuine brand of hockey instead of thuggin' it up, and given Columbus's innate talent, it's not impossible that they could come out a winner in a Game 4.
Looking forward to Pittsburgh's sweep and a flawless victory....