Tortorella post-practice

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Will have Tortorella quotes shortly, followed by a few player quotes.

Then later on we’ll have details on two contests — the predictions contest and the Second Bi-Annual Boneheads/Paul Mara Playoff Beard Contest Extravaganza, Picnic and Parade. So bear with me.

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John Tortorella:

I asked him (for my column tomorrow) if he could put into words how competitive Henrik Lundqvist is.

“Like I said yesterday, he can taste it. He started thinking about that after we lost to Philly last year, how close we were. That’s what I’ve always loved about him, is how hard he competes. And he’s not the only one, but you’re asking me a question about him. That’s a huge trait that he has, and I think it filters to our team.”

I followed up with, if Biron had been healthy down the stretch, would he have had to fight Lundqvist to get him out of the lineup:

“I had to fight him when Biron was healthy during the year, yeah. He wants to play. But I think he understands that it did help him to keep him as fresh as he is now. So I’ll have to fight him again next year. I’d rather have it that way then a guy cowering away, and you look down the bench and some guys are hiding under the bench in key situations. That’s something that’s really revealing with Hank.”

On the challenge of Ovechkin:

“And it’s not just him. We’ve got to be really careful about that. He is a top player in the league, but there’s a few others over there. We don’t have a special remedy. You just have to be aware of where he’s at and try to act accordingly, and certainly not test the waters against him. I think neutral-zone play for both teams is going to be very important.”

On the Caps not being as wide-open as they were earlier, and last year:

“I’m not going to get into too (much) talking about the other team. I’ll talk about Alex, but I’m not going to get into a bunch of questions talking about Washington. I think we understand how they play, they understand how we play. Now we play.”

On having guys like Fedotenko and Drury, and how they’ve raised their play in past post-seasons:

“It’s a matter of, it goes back to (the question about Lundqvist)  wanting to be there. This is such a great opportunity for players. It’s such a long year, it is such a grind. We play too many regular-season games. And then to play in a situation … this is where you get defined — in playoffs. This is where teams get defined, this is where players are defined as far as their career. When it’s over, it’s not regular-season play, it’s playoffs. And I just think it takes a mindset of wanting to be there. I was fortunate to have Rusty in Tampa. No one knew he was going to score 12 goal (including the Cup-winner) in that playoff run we went on. I think he had seven in Pitt, did he not. So it’s a matter of seizing the moment (Editor’s note: better known as Carpe Diem) and again, just wanting to be there and feeling comfortable being in that situation.”

On the getting the young guys comfortable:

“They’re going to play. The only way they can get experience in this situation is to have the opportunity and now they do. They have an opportunity to play some games. Again, they don’t need to overthink. They just need go to out and play their game, and I’m sure they’re going to be just fine.”

“As I’ve said all year long, it’s a good group of guys. The main foundation of our team is our youth. And to get an opportunity, especially some of the ups and downs — I don’t want to say ups and downs — some of the pressures we’ve gone through in the past month, for them to get the opportunity it’s great for them personally, but it’s also great for the organization, because we need to keep on building the team. And you build your team and find your way and get where you want to be by getting these opportunities. So they need to keep their mind clear, free, and just go play.”

On the clean slate, and how that pertains to Marian Gaborik:

“I think Gabby cares. I think, if there’s one guy, it’s a great situation for him. We talked about yesterday, you need to have a short-term memory and move on. As I say, you’re not defined by regular-season play as a player. You’re defined by what you do in crucial situations, and that’s playoff hockey. I know Gabby’s willing to grab ahold of this and try to help this club try to get where they want to be. That will go game to game; it’ll go shift to shift with him. You know, it has been a struggle. We all know that. There’s no hiding that. But for players like that, it’s just got to be wide-open for him. He’s got to really look forward to it and express himself as a player, and I think he’s going to do that.

“He played well (against the Devils). Again, it’s his legs and he played well. But let’s go by that and we just want to play. I think that’s the way Gabby’s got to approach it. I’m sure he’s getting a lot of questions and he’ll keep on getting questions. I think he’s mature enough and he understands it well enough that he’s just going to concentrate on playing. And we’re looking forward to it.”

On Gaborik and the power play’s success being tied together:

“You don’t want to put it all on … it’s not one particular guy on the power play. That’s a group. We’ve kind of changed a couple of the groups around. I’m still not sure what they’re going to be as this series enters. … But no, I’m not going to put that  on Gabby. That’s a whole group of men.”

If he picks up, doesn’t the power play improve?

“Sure. Sure. If he gets comfortable and plays at the level that we’ve seen him play at, in those situations, that will help. But other guys have to help also. I understand what you’re saying. Yeah, he’s probably one of our most skilled guys, and that’s where your guys are. The skilled guys are going to be on that power play. Hopefully he brings it to another level and people join in and we get our power play a little consistent as we enter the series.”

On how much his experience as a Cup-winner helps:

“It’s not about me. This is about the team. As I’ve always said, you guys rip on coaches when we lose; you give us way too much credit when we lose and you give us way too much credit when we win. This is about the men who put the uniform on. I think part of our job is what we’ve done the past couple of days in trying to prepare them, just to give them an idea of how we’re going to approach it; try to handle the surges and the situations as we go in a long series. But the guys who have to put the uniform on, they’re going to make the difference one way or another. And we’re going to help. We’re guidance counselors. That’s our role. And sometimes you need to get out of the way of the players. Sometimes we’re in the way. We need to get out of the way and allow them to enjoy this and allow them to express themselves in a situation like this.”

Asked if he’s a different guidance counselor now:

“Yes, I think as a coach/guidance counselor/teacher you’re always … now this is a new team for me. I grew with that team in Tampa. I changed over the years with Tampa. I have changed from my first 20-game stint and the playoff series in Washington my first time here. Over the past couple of years, I’ve changed, because it’s out of respect to the athletes, because they have grown and they understand how we want to try to approach that. If you’re still trying to teach the lessons and be the person that you were back then, it’s disrespectful to the players. So we’ve all grown together here. I think coaches have to go along with that, too, as your players start growing as people and players.”

On if he can tell anything to the eight guys with no playoff experience:

“Nope. Nope. The more guys without playoff experience the better as far as I’m concerned. And there’s not going to be a lot of explanation to them. We just want them to play. I think having innocence in these type of situations is really good for our hockey club. Because it’s innocence. They don’t know. I think sometimes we all turn it into something bigger and add different pressures when we don’t need to. There’s enough things going on around professional athletes to maybe have a release valve. I think innocence in approaching this is a really good thing.”

On the Staals, Girardis, Dubinskys having some experience, but this being their first time around as team leaders:

“Well, as I just answered that question, they deserve that. They have earned that responsibility. I think, as we’ve said throughout the year, you guys decide how we play, and if you get to a level then we’re going to expect it all the time. It’s the same with our young guys. As they’ve grown as people, you want them to stay at that level, especially the intangibles as far as leadership and going through a couple of weeks here playing against one team. So they deserve the responsibility, they need to handle the responsibility, and that’s experience. I think the process for our young leaders that have had a little bit of playoff experience, and now come to another playoff series, it’s great timing. That’s why it was important to get in, for those guys to keep on growing.”

On any decisions in terms of which forward or defensman won’t play:

“No, and to be honest with you guys, I’m not going to give you any lineups. That will be when the  game starts. I’m not going to give you any lineups. I just don’t want to. That’s as honest as I can be.”

“That closes it? Zip?”

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43 Comments

  1. kreider going back to BC.. don’t understand ahl or possible nhl much better for development then 30 games in college. rangers can use him next year… ahl plays more then double the games, better competition etc….

    he needs the degree? sounds good but let’s be real, he can go back for degree and he is not capitalizing on a lot of money….

  2. So am I going to have to shave full-off before this? My kids never recognize me without the beard…

  3. stuart, it’s not a done deal. NYR can still try to convince him to sign. NYR haven;t announced anything. And it’s not the end of the world if he goes back to BC, he didn’t exactly dominate at the NCAA level…

  4. Why go to College? What a bad idea….the world is going to end on 12.21.2012! Enjoy it while you can.

  5. Is that the date, Manny. I knew it was 2012, but didn’t know the exact date. Well, on the bright side, that gives us almost the whole year.

  6. Richter waited til after his hockey career to get his degree. Get is assen down here before he gets hit in the head with one of those Beanpots! What the hell is he going to do with a History Degree? Even the History Channel doesn’t show history anymore.

  7. Torts is the best – too much credit when they win and too much when they lose. It’s totally true. This guy just coaches – the guys get out and play and play they will.

  8. *Carp* – According to the Mayans that is the date (my dad is a big conspiracy theorist / UFO / Crazy old man so I know this stuff). I also heard something about that not necessarily being the end of the world but possibly being just a new “age.” Calendars are really interesting but I won’t get into that right now……..(mostly because I don’t get it).

    Yea we have plenty of time. These guys just better play like it’s their last chance!

  9. I love that John Tortorella is the coach of this team. I just want to state that now.

    After Tom Renney this organization needed a serious boot to the behind. It’s no coincidence Cally getting injured filled the spot for our Captain to come back. Sure he switches up the lines and has had some Avery issues but he puts the best players in the lineup every night that give our team the chance to win.

    Let’s win this first round for Cally, boys!

  10. That’s pretty old news Manny. Still less money than what got paid to Carl Pavano or Kei Igawa.

  11. It’s true CT…but both of those guys had potential. Bonilla is retired…for a long time. So Bonilla and his agent gambled that Bonilla would be broke by 2010 and the Mets gambled that they would be super rich and on top in 2010. Nice gambles.

  12. Also Kei Igawa is still pitching Scranton Wilkes-Barre into the history books. He’s the best AAA pitcher ever! (not seriously – but he is good down there).

  13. Many teams were willing to pay out the nose for Kei Igawa thinking he was the next Dice-K. Turns out Dice-K is not even the next Dice-K.

  14. The Torts haters will wait to post until *after* we’re eliminated.

    In a sick way, I bet they were hoping we’d miss the playoffs, so they can have the perfect opportunity to lay it all on Torts, and convince us all that he’s the problem!

    Delusional!!

    Go Torts! Go Rangers! One more day!

  15. I wanna see the Capitals (and their fans) start to panic if the Rangers take Game 1. Or take a good lead in the series.

    All the talk about the Capitals changing their strategy, moving away from their offensive game and focusing on defense…and how it will help them in the playoffs.

    Well, what happens if they find themselves down by a goal or two? Or down in the series? Will they instinctively try to run-and-gun and therefore leave themselves open for counterattack?

    I like that nobody is giving the Rangers a chance in hell of winning this series. It seems like most of the theory surrounds the thought that “No way does Washington lose to an 8th seed again” which gives no thought whatsoever to what kind of team the Rangers can be.

    Can’t wait for Wednesday night. Got my jersey ready…the beard is starting as of today. :-)

  16. Nooooooooooooooooooooooo! ORR!! I am a very vocal Torts supporter (and Sullivan). You’re right though. After each loss those guys will come out of the wood work and go crazy about “who played what and where and how Torts has to go because he is clearly the problem….not motivating enough!” Something crazy like that….

    I think jumping out to an early lead is key (more so than in any game) because of the history. I want the Caps to play panicked and frantic rather than determined.

  17. It certainly doesn’t look good on paper, but the WSJ out of any publication should realize that deferred compensation is a very commonly used pay structure. Probably not with athletes as much as CEOs but it’s not such a rare way to negotiate pay. Also if you factor in the time value of money and discount the annuity properly then the number isn’t so egregious.

    And I’d say that the Yankees overpaid for a pretty mediocre Pavano who had finally pieced together two healthy and reasonably productive years before his walk year when the bulk of his previous career was riddled with either red flags or not very good performance. And that Igawa was essentially a response to the Sox winning the posting fee bid for Dice K.

    Not trying to make this Mets vs Yankees or hide the fact that the Mets have made some stupid decisions but that negotiation was done by a far different regime than what they have in place now and it’s more of the “kick ’em while they’re down” treatment that I’ve become accustomed to.

  18. CT – you’re forgetting that Pavano was a very highly desired free agent. The Yankees outbid many teams for him. While many of us that follow the “never sign your enemies (a/k/a people who beat you)” were upset about it, there was plenty of money out there for Pavano from any team willing to pay him. Why? Because he pitched some emotionally brilliant World Series games in 2003.

    The Bonilla thing is terrible because while many people receive buyouts, this payout comes at a time when the Mets are on the hot seat and their fans are almost as miserable as their team. So it’s another example of “look what the Mets did.” I doubt you can find another instance of a player being paid at this age and this pay level. Especially a guy that had the reputation of Bonilla.

    I don’t care what team does what. It is what it is. But… I feel horrible for Mets fans because the Mets ownership does not care about the Mets. They are simply Brooklyn Dodgers fans that want to make money in a sport that isn’t played or marketed the way they remember it.

  19. History Channel doesn’t show history anymore -yeah but have you seen that Carl’s commercial they run with Miss Turkey!

  20. Main difference is the Yankees can afford to overpay for mistakes or players that contribute marginally, most other teams can’t.

    As far as the Wilponzis, believe me I’d love nothing more than to sell the team (well that’s tied with the Dolans selling the Rangers). But I don’t see how putting together several rosters with $120M-$130M+ payrolls isn’t caring about the product put out for the fans. They just chose the wrong people to oversee the roster construction.

  21. CT: “Doesn’t look good on paper???”

    That’s the understatement of the year! We’re not talking about a CEO, we’re talking about Bobby Freakin’ Bonilla and we’re talking about paying him $1.2 million for the next 25 years! The guy played 515 games for the Mets. That’s not normal in baseball. And I’m not sure which “different regime” you’re talking about, since the Wilpons were co-owners of the team at the time of the buyout. Fernando Tatis made less money last year than Bobby Bonilla will make this year. The Mets will have paid him 5 times what the contract was worth once they’re done, and that’s just bad business.

    But to be clear no one is kicking them while they’re down. I have no animosity towards the Mets fans. My point is that their fans deserve better than what they’ve gotten since Carlos Beltran swallowed hard on an Adam Wainwright curve ball five years ago…

    I’ll give you the Igawa thing being nothing but Dice-K envy, but Pavano was the most coveted free agent pitcher that offseason, and the Yankees were just the top bidders.

  22. “The Caps are practicing with 5 forwards on the PP!!!!!”
    “The Caps are practicing with 5 forwards on the PP!!!!!”

    From a Caps blog:
    _______

    Gee, I wonder if the Rangers’ brass is “spying” on our Caps Insider and developing their strategies against our “secret” practice lines, which will undoubtedly be the game lines. Are we sure that we should be posting the practice lines here in the playoffs?

    Well, let me give a nice phat FU here to the Rangers’ scouts and coaches spying on our Caps Insider to get an edge – prepare to lose anyway ya d-bags…..
    Today 4/12/2011 1:49:24 PM EDT
    _____________

    What a zharkov

  23. Noah-allahan-iron, 28 on

    I wonder if our heroes will have a game 12/21/12. It’ll likely be against the Penguins and, if the world is ending, Sid won’t get any calls.

  24. one correction

    it’s not five times what the contract was worth …..it’s five times what they owed him…equaling the total value of the original contract…which is how you know it’s a terrible thing.

  25. Anyone know that site Orr has been posting for the games? I got a friend in Milan touring with his speed metal band Whiplash. He’s a big Ranger fan and want to watch tomorrow.

  26. Thanks Carp for those quotes from Torts. Really good stuff. It appears that Torts has a good relationship with his boys. Getting this team into the playoffs and never losing a game when leading after two periods speaks volumes. You can also add several dramatic and emotional 3rd period come from behind wins to that recommendation.

    One aspect of this PO series which can be seen as a double edged sword is Washington’s early exit last year after winning the President’s Cup. One one hand is their determination to not repeat their first round elimination. On the other hand is the pressure they’re sure to feel if they lose a game early in this series, especially the first game.

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