Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/21/13
The jaw wasn’t jutting out. The lips weren’t forming a pout. And there was nothing to suggest he was about to shout. John Tortorella stood there and methodically reviewed a game in which the Vancouver Canucks coach didn’t get the pace push presence and consistency he demands on a nightly basis. The tactician and teacher didn’t turn into a tormentor after a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. He wasn’t silenced or sedated. He was honest and refreshingly frank as he calmly passed out failing grades for too much perimeter play. That’s not surprising. At the 10-game mark it’s as much about understanding the new system of an aggressive forecheck and zone defence as execution. And if you’re waiting for the fuse to be lit for an explosion of utter frustration — perhaps Tuesday against the New York Islanders — come to understand that it probably won’t happen on this revealing seven-game road trip. Tortorella doesn’t like outside distractions like cell phones that go off as he’s speaking the twits on Twitter or the tardiness of media not being at attention and attentive when he’s about to make his podium addresses. And he reveals very little on game day. Post-game? That’s different. Sunday was typical. “I thought we came out of our end well but not enough in the areas to score goals except on the one power-play goal we scored” Tortorella said of being 2-1-1 on this trip and 5-4-1 overall. “Consistency is a mentality as far as the grind and the shots were very deceiving as far as how we played.” If consistency in the messages is matched by consistency on the ice then there’s reason to believe the Canucks can return to the battle level they showed Saturday in an inspiring 4-3 shootout loss in Pittsburgh. And that’s really what it’s all about for Tortorella. Trying to coax the most out of the league’s 10th oldest team — one that averages 28.1 years and is one of just three without a roster player 21 or under — is tougher than just riding the horses. It’s about reaching players like Henrik and Daniel Sedin on another level and getting them to embrace more ice time penalty killing and shot blocking. It’s about finding any down time to rest and recover by cancelling practices and even finding the crucial moment in a game to call a time-out and refresh his players. All of this under the intense focus of the Vancouver media microscope. “He’s finding out what it’s like to coach a Canadian team” said Canucks general manager Mike Gillis. “There are significant differences and the amount we have to travel and be successful is new to him. He’s got a good sense of humour about it all and is just a lot quieter and calm. He’s a very good coach and doing things behind the bench through the course of a game to change momentum — and to keep momentum.
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