Foligno: Tortorella could give Blue Jackets advantage vs. Maple Leafs

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Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno believes his club's biggest edge in its best-of-five play-in matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs may lie behind the bench.

"In a shortened series, I think the coach that knows his team best and knows how to get the quickest performance out of his team, you know, is going to have an advantage," Foligno said, according to Mark Masters of TSN. "The team that gets their minds to their identity is going to have an advantage."

Veteran head coach John Tortorella has served as the Blue Jackets' bench boss for five seasons. He's won 110 career playoff games, captured the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year on two occasions, and guided the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Stanley Cup title in 2004.

He also coached Columbus to a historic sweep of his former club as the Blue Jackets ousted the 62-win Lightning in the opening round of the 2019 postseason.

Known for his passionate approach, Tortorella put his coaching bona fides on full display while delivering a memorable speech to his players ahead of that series.

"He trusts us, and that trust has been built now for a few years," Foligno said. "You can go back to the video before the series in Tampa and that speech he gave, and that's exactly how all of us were feeling.

"He was dead on, because nobody was expecting anything out of us and we all felt slighted, so he was right in there with us and saying, 'We don't take a backwards step to these guys, we go right at them,' and that's a big reason why we had the success in that series."

Foligno believes Tortorella was paramount in helping the Blue Jackets carry last season's success into 2019-20, coaching them to a 33-22-15 record despite the offseason departures of several high-caliber talents and injuries to key players throughout the campaign.

"We could have easily strayed with the injuries we faced and the question marks going into the season, but he did a great job and we followed suit," Foligno said. "Now that belief is in the locker room. When you have a coach like that who can coach off emotion but also practicality, that's a huge benefit for us."

The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, replaced Mike Babcock with rookie head coach Sheldon Keefe in November following a 9-10-4 start to Babcock's fifth season with the team. Though Toronto's play remained inconsistent, the team improved under Keefe, posting a 27-15-5 record.

Foligno: Tortorella could give Blue Jackets advantage vs. Maple Leafs
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