John Tortorella is pining for his Columbus Blue Jackets to simplify their game and reset mentally while mired in a 6-7-1 slump since the trade deadline.
The Jackets haven't jelled the way many expected after they added Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Adam McQuaid, and Keith Kinkaid for the stretch run. Columbus currently sits outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but Tortorella wants his team to drown out that noise and just have fun.
"Just go play. We need to have a shinny-hockey mentality," Tortorella told The Province's Ben Kuzma prior to Columbus' 5-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. "We're trying to really clean the slate here. Good players always expect more out of themselves and not getting results, it tends to bog them down because they're not feeling it."
He added: "The biggest thing now is we need to not overthink anything ... Don't overload your mind with a lot of thinking and numbers that people throw at me all the time with the problems we've had as a team."
The Blue Jackets are averaging 2.36 goals per game since the deadline. The top line of Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Cam Atkinson has combined for four goals in March. Duchene, meanwhile, has tallied six points in 16 contests since joining the squad.
Tortorella admits that Columbus' top players are feeling pressure to perform after the team went all-in at the deadline.
"They've got to feel a result to not let their confidence waver, because it can go either way if we don’t start getting results," Tortorella said. "We need to find a way to release ourselves and get on the attack and keep it simple. The one thing when you're dealing with some guys who aren't used to being put under a microscope and you’re supposed to win now, is that it changes a bit with expectations and that has affected some guys."
Sunday's decisive victory was a step in the right direction, but the Blue Jackets still trail the Montreal Canadiens by two points for the second wild-card spot with one game in hand.