First the news. Girardi still out. Same lineup as last night, only with Lundqvist in goal. Just saw one of the good guys in the game, Radek Dvorak.
Back with Tortorella quotes soon.
On Girardi (who showed no improvement and is out tonight).
“He’ll be ready to play after the break.”
On whether the team changed tactics in OT from last year to this year:
“We’re trying to be more aggressive, yeah. We’re trying to forecheck more aggressively 4-on-4. Again, we just haven’t had a whole bunch of practice time. We did quite a bit of that when the season started. We worked on our zone coverage 4-on-4. But definitely, we’re trying to be up the ice more 4-on-4, although we weren’t last night. I thought we were on our heels in the overtime last night. But we’re trying to be more aggressive and trying to score a goal 4-on-4.
“I think our mindset was different (last year). We have a much more aggressive mindset as a hockey club right now, a more confident mindset, starting at the beginning of this year. And I think the personnel has something to do with that. So, no, that’s a big part of what happened last year—our shootouts and our 4-on-4 play.”
Does having Wolski and Zuccarello change the thinking, that he wouldn’t mind going to shootouts?
“No—Hank plays a lot of the games, and I think we have a pretty good goalie as far as the shootout, so we have talked from Day 1 that we don’t want to sit back, but we don’t want to be stupid either. We don’t want to give up a goal by being stupid, because we have a pretty good goalie. So it’s kind of a little bit of both. It’s certainly not sitting back, because we’re trying to win the game (in OT) but just don’t be stupid.”
On Grachev’s first game back:
“Yeah, he skated better last night. I thought his first period was pretty good. He was more on the puck. It’s something we’ve asked him to work at. The next step is, what’s next? We’ve got to figure out if there’s going to be some offense there. Again, there wasn’t much … I think he only played nine minutes or so. So I think he’s listening as far as what we’re looking for him to do. I thought he did a better job in protecting the puck, but it stops there. We need him to get something else.”
On where he plays, or other lines:
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I’m still fighting in my mind what I’m going to do with lines.”
Stan Fischler asked him “when do you decide?”
Tortorella laughed and said, “Yeah, I might wait until the puck drops.” Then jokingly told him to get lost, but in a more colorful tone. All in fun.
On what makes this team so resilient:
“I just think that we have tried to, from after last year, throughout the summer, in communications and as camp started, we tried to create an identity in how we were going to play. I think they have done that. I think they’ve had some success through adversity, through injuries, or being down in a period, or whatever it may be. And I think they’re confident. Again, it’s a comfortable feeling—I shouldn’t say comfortable; you don’t want to be down going into the third period—but I don’t think it affects the hockey club right now. We’re not going to win them all. We might be down by one in the third period and lose games by three. But I think the team understands how it has to handle itself and having success, I think that grows on them. So I give them a lot of credit. They’ve battled through this here and hung together, and the most important thing as we’ve gone through the first almost three-quarters of the season here, they’ve played really well as a team. The lines have been moved around a little bit through injuries, people have played with a lot of different people. but I think we’ve played pretty good as a team.”
On being deeper:
“I think the guys that have come up from the minor-league team have done the job. I think it starts with the program down there. I think they’re very well coached. I think they’re very well conditioned, and I always say that because they step right in here and are able to play at maybe a little bit higher level as far as speed. Through all this here, through all the injuries we’ve had, this is going to help the organization in the long term. It certainly gives us the chance to look at more people than we thought we would be at this time. And it certainly gives them more experience quicker than we thought they’d get, as we continue to build the hockey club.”
On the last game before the break:
“I’m not worried about effort. I just don’t want us to exhale here. I think it’s a team that needs a break through some of the stuff that we’ve gone through. This is our fifth game in seven nights. It’s certainly not an excuse; teams go through stretches like this. We’ve handled ourselves well. We need to handle ourselves well for another five or six hours here and try to get the result we need to get before we leave.”
I asked him if, given the number of holes he’s had to fill and the results the team has gotten have surprised him:
“Yeah, a little bit, because I didn’t know some of the kids. Kolarik, I didn’t know him. Brodie Dupont, although he’s only played one game, I think he did his job for the five or six minutes he played the first time. Weise came in and did his job. Newbury has done his job. Zuccarello, I mean, we weren’t sure if he was ready. And it’s an interesting thing. You sit down there and talk to the minor-league coaches: ‘Is he ready?’ ‘I’m not sure.’ You know what? Sometimes you’re forced to try to find out through injuries and it’s answered for you. And he certainly has handled himself very well.
“Surprised? Yeah. Yeah. We just didn’t expect for this to be put upon us right away. We thought they were going to play for longer down there. So it’s funny how it works, how guys get their opportunities to play.”
Asked if last year’s team would have won the last two games:
“I don’t want to go back to last year. We have different personnel this year. I think we have a different mindset this year. I think the youth of our team has grown up another year, have become part of the leadership of our club. So, I don’t want to put one against the other. I just know, and I told you guys from the get-go in camp, I just felt that this group was more together, and that’s maturity and a couple of changes here and there. And the biggest thing is we kept our kids. We kept our kids. The greatest thing Glen has done from the end of last year to where we are right now is we still have our kids and we’re growing with them.”
Will he send some of the rookies back to the AHL during the six-day break.
“Probably. We’re going to meet on that tonight. We certainly want some of the guys going back down there. … There will be guys going down. I’m not sure. It depends on how we get through tonight’s game. I just hope none of the guys we hope to go and keep playing get hurt tonight. The way it’s been going with us you never know.”
Asked if he wonders how this team will look when it gets 90 percent healthy:
“Well, I hope to find out. I don’t wonder. I’m hoping to find out, to get some of these guys back. I think after the break, I think within a short period there after we start playing again, we’ll see if we can continue to try to get healthy and get some of these guys back. It’s not wondering, it’s hoping that we have an opportunity for some of these guys to get back in and play.”
On whether Callahan and Christensen should be the first two back:
“I think Cally will be the first one. Never count out Dubi. I think if there’s one guy who’s really close, it’s Cally. Other than that, I’m not sure.”
Is Callahan still on track to play Feb. 1 vs. Pittsburgh?
“I think so. As of right now, I think so. Yes. Unless he has a setback. He’s going to train during the break, as all of them will. But I think he’s the closest one. I think he’s eyeballing that one.”
On Del Zotto’s first game back:
“He played pretty good. You can see he certainly helps our power play as far as puck movement. Again, he hasn’t produced this year on our power play, but the struggles that we do have trying to develop some point men, you can see that the one power play that him and (Gilroy) were on, we used the width of the ice and we had good puck movement by Michael. I thought he concentrated on some of the things that we’ve asked him to. And he didn’t do anything great, but he certainly played within himself and I think that’s a good step.”