When John Tortorella was hired as Rangers coach, I spoke about the comparisons to Mike Keenan. In short, I said the similarities were his tough-guy, no-friends-needed approach, his aggressive style of play, and the way he would hold players accountable.
Where he didn’t compare was in the nutty department. Not that I don’t think Keenan is brilliant in his own way. He truly is. But he’s way out there sometimes.
So last night, here was Torts doing his Keenan impression A-Z. First he sat out Sean Avery. Never mind the magnitude of the game, or that perhaps a sit-down chat might achieve the desired result. No, Tortorella felt he needed to be scratched, perhaps as much a message to Avery as to everyone else.
Then, in Game 5 of a playoff series, he sent out Blair Betts, Colton Orr and Aaron Voros for a power play after the Rangers’ high-priced, supposed skill guys gave up a short-handed goal, and he explained that the top players cannot assume they will get the premium ice time and assignments based on their reputations and resumes. Very Keenan.
Finally, Tortorella (Getty photo, above) had a meltdown himself, a loss of discipline just like Avery and Scott Gomez—who took a retalliatory penalty 1:16 into the game, as if the whole Avery/discipline thing had flown right over his head.
Now Tortorella—if he’s not suspended—has to put Avery back in the lineup. He is stuck with this clown for three more years, and if he can’t play now, then Glen Sather will have to find a way to get rid of him over the summer. Good luck with that. Remember, no other team wanted him at half-price in March when he was on waivers.
1) Interesting that Henrik Lundqvist, an Avery friend and supporter, had his worst game of the series.
2) Chris Drury was worse than awful, one hand or not. He was directly toasted on the short-handed goal and on Alex Ovechkin’s highlight-reel goal, and was a tidy minus-3 in 7:21 of ice time.
3) Gomez was worse.
4) Is it possible the power play has actually gotten worse?
5) Rangers goals in the last four games: 1, 0, 2, 0. Against a rookie goalie and a team not known for its defense. Still want to debate the skill-level?
6) When you see Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky still playing after everybody quit, two letters come to mind: C and A.
7) I still think the Rangers can/should/maybe even will win this series. Momentum doesn’t carry over from game to game (see all three of the ongoing Eastern series). But they are not beating Boston.
I may not be able to post again until my pregame from MSG Sunday morning. In the meantime, get out in this nice weather and away from all those thoughts about Game 5.