Well, it might be a pop quiz. But it sure isn’t a final exam.
Rest assured, though, John Tortorella’s new system will be in full bloom tonight. Also rest assured that any line combos or personnel decisions the new sheriff employs tonight will not be final or conclusive.
The first lesson: Put the object on the right into the net, which is that red thing with the white mesh all over it, behind the big guy in the Maple Leafs uniform with the mask and all the big equipment.
In order to to that, Lesson 1A is: Chase it, pursue it, attack it, be aggressive for it.
That will be the more interesting drama playing out tonight. How the Rangers play, how they pursue. It will be different than they played all year, or for the last three years. It will look different.
I am not going way out on the limb and saying it will result in more victories. I still think the Rangers lack true top-level skill. I really do. And I think their defense is middle-of-the-pack. So they will rely on Henrik Lundqvist a lot. More than they have in a while, although his mental strain should be lessened by the idea that his team might be able to overcome any and every goal he allows.
On the obvious personnel issues, it will be interesting to see how Tortorella uses Scott Gomez, Nik Zherdev (they may play together), Chris Drury, Petr Prucha and especially Wade Redden. It will be interesting to see how different the God-awful power play looks (and you are probably hoping that Jim Schoenfeld is smart enough to leave the penalty kill alone).
The fourth line, other than Blair Betts on the PK, is probably going to see a lot less ice time. A lot less. The top guys will see a lot more. A lot more. But each and every one of them will have to earn it. Or they will be sitting next to Colton Orr and Jim Ramsay. But any and all lines that start tonight’s games are subject to change. Immediate change.
It will be different. It will probably be better right off the bat because of the instant spark a coaching change ignites, and because of the bark in Tortorella’s voice and his reputation. Tortorella, though, barely can put names with faces at this point, so to that end, this is a something of an audition for most of the players.
And while he’s here for the long term (we assume), there are some instant decisions that have to be made with the trade deadline and Sean Avery both looming before next Wednesday’s trade and playoff roster deadlines.
I’m asking you guys to do some reporting tonight. I will be at another event and unable to watch the game live. So if you see anything really interesting in the way Torts uses players, or anything drastically different other than the system, do me a favor and toss it in the comments. I will have my laptop, and will be recording the game for viewing later, but I need to be kept up to date. Thanks.
Here’s the info on Mark Bell, claimed off waivers by the Rangers today. Bell is likely headed to Hartford.
Tonight’s lineup: Mara still out, Voros scratched.