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Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning preview: Torts meets Todd

Todd Richards reunites with his old team.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME 22

Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SUN, FS-O

Opponent SBNation Site: Jackets Cannon

Preview:

Who the heck are the Columbus Blue Jackets this season, aside from a better team than they were last season? Under John Tortorella, they apparently have a backbone, some "come from behind grittiness" that allows them to win, and a record that has them at 4th in the tough Metro division. In fact, here is a quote from our worthy opponents at Jackets Cannon about their new coach:

I’m grateful for Torts - his brash style and his history prior to arriving rubbed me the wrong way. But he’s been on the straight and narrow since he arrived here, and he’s worked hard to change the culture of the club. Some of the gritty come-from-behind wins we’ve had this season? Those don’t happen under previous regimes. This team is faster and mentally tougher than any we’ve had here before, and that alone give me hope for this season and beyond.

Not only is Tortorella a good fit for this undeniably American hockey team, but they have a new defender who is an equally good fit. Drafted 8th overall in 2015, Zach Werenski is a 19-year-old rookie who made the lineup this season out of camp. Last year he finished his second year at the University of Michigan, and went pro by joining the Lake Erie Monsters for seven games of their AHL playoff run.

Werenski goes into tonight’s game 5th in scoring by a defenseman, behind such eminent names as Brent Burns, Shea Weber, Andrei Markov, and Erik Karlsson. Our fine opposition says that his strong play has allowed the rest of the Columbus defensemen to play their natural positions more, and the whole team has benefited as a result.

As much as the Jackets like their new coach, who is also Tampa's old coach, Tampa likes our new special teams coach, who is the Jackets' old coach. Richards was with the Blue Jackets for five seasons before being fired last season and replaced by Tortorella. Columbus's position on the power play out of 30 teams last season was 1st. Tampa Bay's position, 28th. Tampa Bay's current position on the power play is 3rd. Not bad, for only 21 games with Richards!

How did he manage to do it? Victor Hedman told Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith that Richards makes things seem simple: "(Richards) has been phenomenal. He's simplified things. We know our game plan going out there. And our power play has been clicking pretty good. Obviously we want to put a good effort for him (tonight)."

Yes, this effort thing, please do it.

Question: Will Bolts open scoring in the first period, or will it look more like Wednesday?

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Ondrej Palat - Vladislav Namestnikov - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point

Jonathan Drouin - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Callahan

Cedric Paquette - Brian Boyle - J.T. Brown

Defensive Pairings

Victor Hedman - Andrej Sustr

Jason Garrison - Nikita Nesterov

Goaltenders

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Columbus Blue Jackets

Forwards

Brandon Saad - Alexander Wennberg - Nick Foligno

Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Matt Calvert - William Karlsson - Josh Anderson

Scott Hartnell - Lukas Sedlak - Sam Gagner

Defensive Pairings

Zach Werenski - Seth Jones

Ryan Murray - Jack Johnson

Markus Nutivaara - David Savard

Goaltenders

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Line information will be updated eventually.