First a clarification. Chris Drury is on injured reserve with a broken finger, but it’s retroactive to when the injury occurred. So he is eligible to come off IR at any moment. If he feels he can play in Buffalo, the Rangers could activate him. They would have to then send a player to Hartford. Drury was with the team yesterday, and likely headed to Buffalo for the game. But he probably would sit out. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t play Monday on Long Island or Friday in the home opener.
John Tortorella post-practice:
Asked by MSG TV if he’s ready to go:
Then he turned for another question.
On comfort level with line combos:
“With the lines, yeah. We’ll start that way. We are still having discussions on our D. We have an idea on the top four. As far as 5 snd 6, we’ll make that decision tomorrow.”
On Eminger and/or Gilroy being able to play the right side:
“I think Eminger’s more comfortable there. If that’s going to be our third pair, Eminger would probably there.”
On not naming an alternate captain (or a captain) yet:
“No, to start here, I’m not going to. I want to see how Vinny Prospal comes along and if we feel it’s going to be a while, then that’s when we’ll make that decision as far as the other ‘A’ is concerned.”
I asked if he feels this team is better than last year’s team.
“I do. I do. I’m not going to make predictions. I’m not in that part of the business. I just go on as I’ve been talking about the whole camp: I think the group is together, I think we’re familiar. I think the addition of an experienced backup goalie; Frolov, who we’re hoping will score some goals and help Gabby; and Stepan as stepped up; just some additions there—Fedotenko who can give me some utility work.
“And again, the bottom line is that the kids are intact. They’re still here and they’re going to improve as we go along. That’s where I see, I think, we’ll improve as a hockey club.”
I said, in order for this team to get better, because it hasn’t made major changes, those young guys have to all be better.
“Yes. And by them staying together and being together and familiar with our team concept, growing together, that’s where your team starts getting better. I know it wasn’t a real active summer, but it was a summer that I thought was really good for the New York Rangers because the kids are here, and our core is still here, and they’re going to work another year together.”
On if he likes where the team is in terms of team concept:
“Yes. With the puck, without the puck, special teams, we have gotten in what we need to get in. The game of hockey isn’t turning them into robots. We have our foundation in. There’s going to be some mistakes made. It’s a game of mistakes. But we had a really good tape (session) talking about all parts of our team concept before our day off Thursday. So, yeah, we’re very satisfied how the camp went as far as conditioning, and how it went as far as instituting the team concept.”
It was mentioned to him that his teams tend to always start well—about which he claimed to have no idea.
“We want a good start, but it means nothing unless you can stay consistent. That’s what we have to do. We’re hoping for a good start. I have always, since I’ve run camsp, it’s heavy laden with conditioning. I just think the game is clearer for players when the games really start counting, when they’re really in top shape. It comes to them, rather than them chasing the game. So I hope we have another good start this year.”
On Staal and Girardi:
“They may not be a pair tomorrow night (it appeared through preseason and practice yesterday that they would). I’m not sure. What I need from them … their last two months of the season, I thought they really improved and they were more consistent, especially Staalsie, where I thought he had an up and down year. He was just so much more instinctive the last couple of months and I thought that was due to him understanding how we should play, our team concept. So we need to have him to continue to grow. We would like them to take leadership opportunities here as they continue to grow. They’ve been in the league a few years now, so I just want to see them take another step, both of them. Danny, even at the end of last year, we gave him some power-play time and he did a pretty good job on the power play.
“So in all facets of the game, we want to see them improve. Again, I’m not sure we’re going to be locked in with them as a pair all the time.”
“He was nicked up a little bit (during camp), but I think he prepares better. I thought, when I first came here, I don’t think you can just go out and play the games. You don’t want to hound them and turn them into robots, but there is still preparation for a player to go through. I think he’s improved there, and I definitely think he’s improved on his conditioning. Especially at that position, if you’re in top shape—because it’s such a hard position with so many different looks at you, you’re not chasing the game. The game is coming to you. And I think he’s grown, and continues.”