If there's one thing we admire about Ranger coach John Tortorella, it's that he really cares. With his team going through the motions during yet another loss- this time 2-1 to the hated Islanders, the fiery coach predictably lost it in the MSG postgame press conference.
On the dreadful first period that saw his team outshot 10-3:
“Absolutely unacceptable. I have no explanation for how we started. I wish I could give you one.”
On the Islander fluky goal which they got off hard work:
“That we don’t get.. It’s horse [crap] coverage around the corners. He just brings it around the net and it’s a fluky goal, but we don’t get them.”
What must be done?
“I’ll tell you right now, the thing that’s unacceptable about tonight’s game- and we’re trying to stay positive around here, trying to work out way through it- but when we play like [garbage] like that for 20 minutes, in a game like this, in a back-to-back situation, it’s unacceptable. ... it is simply unacceptable. And there has to be something done. We’ll see, along the way here, before tomorrow night’s game, where we go with it. It’s simply unacceptable how we start that game. I wish I could give you a ____ explanation for it. I can’t.”
There you have it. The question heading into tonight's rematch over on The Meadowbrook is will Tort back up his strong words? Larry Brooks had a couple of good write ups in today's Post, including one on how the coach must take action. Make examples of underachieving veterans not earning their keep (Drury, Kotalik, Redden, Rozsival). Bobby Sanguinetti is available for the next two games. If he doesn't, then he's just as soft as previous coaches here. With the team going through its worst stretch (17 losses in last 21) since pre-lockout, the coach's ass is on the line. Even if it doesn't seem fair, when a team continues to lose, that's what usually happens.
It's not all Tortorella's fault. Glen Sather set him up to fail. Same theme that finally cost Tom Renney his job. However, the former Lightning Cup winning coach did have a say in the current roster, opting to let key parts like Blair Betts and Freddy Sjostrom go for what's become no fourth line. Did he really want Enver Lisin for Lauri Korpikoski? And what of the deadline deal that got us Derek Morris for Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha? Both of whom have found themselves. Was it worth it? There's also the line inconsistencies which probably have his own personnel confused. If Artem Anisimov is not going to get decent minutes, send him down. It's not good for his confidence.
There's also the matter of when Henrik Lundqvist will ever get a night off. On a team that's scored two-or-less in 17 of the last 21, he's feeling the pressure. How else to explain some of the clunkers he's permitted? When you have so little support, it tightens the noose. It's clearly getting to him. For all our criticism of Henrik, at least he cares. The man always is accountable and last night, took the entire team to task including himself. Maybe they're right. Perhaps it's our goalie who's the real leader of the room. Why not strip Drury? Of course, goalies usually aren't captains but Roberto Luongo is in Vancouver. On a roster that's had plenty of turnover, Lundqvist has been a constant since the lockout, putting the franchise back on the map. When he talks, people listen. It sure couldn't hurt.
So, what can we expect later? I don't know. It would at least be refreshing to see the Blueshirts wear the jersey with pride and push back against the Islanders, who always bring it in these games. Even if it's lost some of its luster as was evidenced by the lack of passion in the stands, it still means something. Their season is hanging by a thread with it not getting easier this weekend when they visit Philly. Have they given up entirely or will they show some life?
Regarding the rumor on Boomer and Carton that if they lose again, Slats will lose his job. Until there's some credence in other reliable places, we don't buy it. Even if he finally does get the ax, does any Ranger fan really think an inexperienced Mark Messier would be a suitable replacement? He's become just another suit. The Good Old Boys Club never works. If he's hired, then you know who's calling the shots.