Same lineup today. Wasn’t announced last night, but Chad Johnson went back to Hartford to get some playing time before he gets a start or two here. Matt Zaba is up to back up Lundqvist today. John Tortorella wants them both to play, so they’ll “get a lot of miles” this month, he said.
I asked Tortorella about the troubles at home—obviously two of them were the stinkers against the Islanders and the Flyers.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I know what I see on the ice. We just lack energy and, I think, competing in our own building. It’s very frustrating. We’re 7-2-1 in our last 10 road games and usually it’s ass-backwards going the other way. And we’ve had many discussions as far as how we can get them more focused. Our starts have been a real struggle and then we just kind of melt. I think it comes into a little bit of mental toughness and fighting through a tough few minutes and getting back to your game. It’s something we obviously need to get better at.
“But to be able to stick a pin into something about while we haven’t played well at home, I can’t do that. I think it’s a number of things. The No. 1 thing is our focus and we’ve had a lot of discussions on how we’re going to try to change a few things in preparing for our home games.”
He was also asked about how convenient the organization makes it on the team.
“Sometimes too good,” he said. “That’s part of the problem. Sometimes too good. That’s something in the short time I’ve been here … I think we take too good care of them sometimes. I’ll leave it at that.
“We’re changing our travel into the Island and Jersey, where it’s not going to be 10 freakin’ limos flying in from all over the place and coming in for a morning skate. We’re leaving the night before the game, on a bus, and going as a team to New Jersey and to the Island from now on. There are so many different things that come into play with people spread out all over the city and Westchester County, that I’m just beginning to understand and trying to get a better handle on it to be more team-conducive in the travel that we have here.”
He said they were also having discussions on changes in pre-game skates and things before home games, for better focus.
“And listen, they care. Larry (Brooks) asked me the other night, ‘do they care?’ And I said, ‘No, it looked like they didn’t.’ But they care. We all know that they do. It’s just a matter of readiness. You know what? The (Garden fans) are knowledgeable and they come down pretty hard on you. You’ve got to be able to handle that too. You make your own bed with this stuff. You’ve got to be able to handle some of the stuff that goes on in this building. That’s where I think we fluctuate a little bit and get even further in the hole. We’ve got to fight through this part of it.
“I look at our record and if we just took care of a little bit of business here at home, we’re in a pretty good spot.”