You’d better hope that this year’s mantra isn’t John Tortorella’s “We sucked from head to toe.”
I thought that was hilarious, but true. And very, very calculated. Coaches and captains who have their finger on the pulse do stuff like that from time to time. Tortorella knew exactly what he was doing. He was getting a message to his team, which really was pretty lousy and soft and disinterested and distracted. And he was doing it without having to stand there and answer questions about individuals who stunk. And he was, at the same time, firing a distracting pre-emptive strike in the media (especially since there was probably a ton of Canadian media there at the time).
1) Head to toe definitely includes the power play. The Rangers are still going to have trouble scoring goals, especially when the second line is as blah as it’s been so far. But there is no excuse, even a lack of skill, for the power play being the way it’s been. The Rangers stands around, and a PP can go that way … if. You can stand still and fire pucks at the net and hope for rebounds if you have guys who can shoot it and guys who can tip and screen and get those rebounds. Or you can look for the open shot and try to get it by moving and moving, making the defensive players find you while you try to find open space, making quick passes. But you can’t stand around AND try to make pretty plays. You can’t. And, IMO, the best way to do it is by moving, having forwards darting to holes and darting out. In fact, you could get a basketball coach to draw up some half-court plays, with back-doors and rotations and learn a lot of good PP ideas. It wouldn’t be any worse than the Rangers PP has been for as long as I can remember.
2) No matter what, you cannot have guys miss the net by as much as Derek Stepan did on the 5-on-3 … you can’t miss the net ever on a 5-on-3; and you just can’t miss by as much as Brad Richards then did, resulting in the Oilers breakaway.
3) When you looked at this season, one thing among the forwards that you figured was good as money in the bank, as long as they didn’t “rob Peter to pay Marian and Brad” was the Pack Line. But that line got broken up and for good reason in this game. Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan have been awful, and now Artem Anisimov has visited the doghouse, too. With others. Maybe they should bring Sean Avery back to work the bow-wow chateau door.
4) The Oilers sure have some speed and skill. How about that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, or whatever his names are. In fact, can I say something about all these three-name kids? I am honestly not being disrespectful, and I fully understand why parents in this day and age want both surnames represented in their children, and that’s all well and good. But what happens when John Smith-Jones marries Mary Brown-Miller and they have kids? Will little Billy Smith-Jones-Brown-Miller grow up and marry Sally White-Green-Edwards-Quinn and then have a kid named Herman Smith-Jones-Brown-Miller-White-Green-Edwards-Quinn? Know what I’m sayin’?
5) Back to hockey and last night’s game. The first Oilers goal, perfectly-played (by the Oilers) 3-on-2 started by Brendan Bell’s pinch. OK, it was a poorly executed and timed pinch. But Steve Eminger and Brandon Prust really botched the 3-on-2, too, didn’t they? And I’m not even sure how they did it, or what they should have done differently. But it was too easy.
6) OK, exhale. The goaltender is OK. But you got a half an hour or so of imagining what this team would look like if he ever gets hurt.
7) So I’m in central Westchester on my way home in the first period. ESPN radio has the World Series, and only a percentage of the tri-state area gets that station clearly. The Rangers game is supposed to be on Bloomberg radio, but Bloomberg radio has Notre Dame football. I tried every single notch on the radio dial and couldn’t even get a static version of the Rangers game. I actually heard a few moments of Colorado-Chicago. Not more than 30-35 miles from Madison Square Garden, and I couldn’t hear a live radio feed of the Rangers game.
8) So I missed the first period, thus you guys have to let me know who you demanded to be traded in those 20 minutes. I know all the rest that you wanted traded over the last two periods. And also that you all think the season is over.
9) Good to see the message is getting through about the needless penalties. Oh, never mind.
My Three Rangers Stars
(this wasn’t easy)
1) Marian Gaborik.
2) Henrik Lundqvist.
3) Brian Boyle.
AP photo, above.