COLUMBUS, Ohio — In the NHL, speed is fast becoming Job One. Just as the Bruins say they’re committed to playing faster in 2016-17, the Blue Jackets say the same.
Columbus coach John Tortorella fashioned his success around teams fiercely indoctrinated in defense and shot-blocking. But Torts now says, after a summer of what he calls “self-coaching,’’ that he wants the speed game to be the Blue Jackets’ brand. If that means some mistakes along the way, so be it.
“We’re trying to get up the ice as quickly as possible,’’ said Tortorella, prior to his team’s 6-3 loss to the Bruins Thursday night. “I do believe with some additions on our blue line, with puckhandling and our legs, we’ll be able to get out of our zone quickly. That D-to-D pass in our game, you don’t see a lot of those anymore.
“I do want us to have the puck more. I do want us not to be afraid to make a play. I guess it’s a fine line, ‘Are you reckless or are you responsible?’ I think you can allow yourself to be creative, but also be responsible.’’
Over the summer, said Tortorella, his “self-coaching’’ was a lesson in convincing himself to allow players the rope they need to try to make those plays.
Sounding as if he just returned from a Trappist retreat, Tortorella said mistakes ultimately can lead to a more accomplished, impactful player.
“A good player turns into a great player,’’ said Tortorella, “if he goes right back and [successfully] makes that play, the one he screwed up on. I want them to feel that. We have a really young team and I want it to develop that way. I want them to feel comfortable, but I also want them to have the accountability, when we don’t have the puck, playing the right way there, too.’’
If Game 1 serves as any indication, Tortorella’s patience will be tested to the max. The Jackets made too many gaffes, none more than veteran forward Brandon Dubinsky, who finished minus-5.
Patrice Bergeron was injured during Tuesday’s practice and did not fly here with the team. Defensemen Kevan Miller (hand surgery) and Adam McQuaid (upper-body injury) also remained home. Bergeron and McQuaid are not expected to be sidelined long-term. Miller likely won’t play until the start of December.
“They can’t be nervous, they’ve just got to go out there and play,’’ said coach Claude Julien after the morning workout, his roster dotted with four NHL first-timers. “They’ve just got to go out there and have some fun, just like they did in [training] camp, and that helped them really earn a spot on the team.
“They seemed pretty relaxed this morning. Whether that changes tonight, we’ll see.’’
Right winger Danton Heinen and center Austin Czarnik were the newbie forwards. Brando Carlo and Rob O’Gara, who graduated this spring from Yale, were the fresh faces on the blue line. Combined NHL game experience: zero.
Of the four newbies, only Carlo picked up a point, an assist on Brad Marchand’s second goal. Neither Czarnik nor Heinen landed a shot on net. O’Gara played 13:12, substantially less than Carlo’s 17:48.
“I started making [fewer] mistakes as the game went on,’’ said Carlo, who was paired with captain Zdeno Chara. “Overall, I felt pretty good out there. Some mistakes, but I felt I recovered well by the end.’’
Carlo was far out of position, and stick-checking, on Cam Atkinson’s power-play goal that delivered the Jackets’ 2-0 lead.
In part because of the injuries, the Bruins had no fewer than 10 players in their lineup whose salary cap figures for 2016-17 are $1 million or less.
Up front, along with Heinen and Czarnik, that included David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner, Riley Nash, Dominic Moore, and Noel Acciari. Along with O’Gara and Carlo, the other budget player on the backline was Colin Miller.
In total, those 10 players are on the books this season for a combined $9.44 million cap figure, or $944,000 per player.
By contrast, the three injured players, Bergeron, McQuaid, and Miller, carry a combined cap figure of $12.125 million.
Though 10 is a high number for what amounts to “starter’’ salaries, it is an increasing trend across the 30-team NHL to balance off high-priced talent with budget players who typically lack experience. It’s about the only way teams can make a serious run at a Cup and also stay under the league cap figure of $73 million.
The Bruins enter the season, according to nhlnumbers.com, with a team cap figure of $71.273 million. The figure includes $1.167 million for Dennis Seidenberg, the veteran blue liner whom they bought out in June. No longer with the club, his cap figure in Boston this year will be higher than 10 of the players who wore the Spoked-B Thursday night vs. the Blue Jackets.
Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno and wife Janelle earlier this week made public their $1 million donation to both Boston Children’s Hospital and Nationwide Children’s Hospital here in Columbus. Their daughter Milana, now 3, underwent life-saving heart surgery in Boston when she was three months old.
“So we are forever indebted to that hospital and those people there,’’ Foligno said after the club’s morning skate. “It will always hold a special place in my heart, for sure, as well as Nationwide here.’’
Milana, among the 1 percent of children born with a congenital heart defect, underwent the insertion of a heart valve by Boston surgeon Ram Emani. According to Foligno, Milana returns to Boston once each year for a checukup and, meanwhile, “acts like a 3-year-old going on 20.’’ Pestering her brother Landon occupies a portion of her day.
“The main reason she bounced back so well, I think it’s because they don’t know what they are going through,’’ said Foligno. “It’s just life to them, right? We tell her that she has a special heart [with the implanted valve] and so she will point that out. But for her, she is just excited to play and bug her brother and go from there.’’
Nash didn’t pick up any points in his Boston debut, but he played a very steady 13:48, picking up more ice time when the Bruins were protecting their lead in the third. The former Cornell standout was also a very impessive 10 for 13 at the faceoff dot . . . David Backes’s only weak spot was on the draw. He finished a substandard 9 for 23 . . . The Bruins Saturday night will be in Toronto to face the Maple Leafs, who saw rookie Auston Matthews set an NHL record Wednesday night when he scored four times vs. Ottawa in his NHL debut. Asked Thursday afternoon if he had a rookie who could score four times in his debut here vs. the Blue Jackets, Julien said, “I hope so! I’d like to see that. That was pretty impressive, no doubt. They got themselves a pretty good player, and we will see him soon enough.’’ . . . The Bruins will be on the ice for noon practice Friday in Toronto.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.