In the wake of Game 4, the Rangers held a conference call with John Tortorella and reporters a little while ago. Our friend Carp was a healthy scratch. He’s in the air returning from Ottawa, so I handled the call in his absence.
Tortorella’s club lost 3-2 on Wednesday night to even the series two games apiece. It dropped the Rangers to 0-7 in their last seven overtime playoff games and was highlighted, in part, by their failure to produce a third goal after scoring a pair in the opening 6:10. Their power play converted both goals to start the night 2-0 but went 0 for its last 5.
Those items, the absence of Carl Hagelin, and whether or not his players were gassed were among the topics Tortorella discussed this afternoon. But he really stressed the need to regain momentum.
Here’s a complete transcript of the call…
Question: How did you miss Carl Hagelin in Game 3?
John Tortorella: “That’s not the reason why. I thought we played really well yesterday. You want to see him, but we’ve made do. We’ve done a lot of good things so we’re not going to use that as an excuse. That’s for sure.”
Q: Certainly, some of the guys are gassed and he brings a lot of speed and he’s played big minutes for you.
JT: “No, guys aren’t gassed. I thought the third period was our best period. That’s when we — other than a couple spurts that they had — really played our best hockey. You may look at minutes and think our guys were gassed. Our guys weren’t gassed. I thought that was our best period, really, since the first game.”
Q: Your best guys need to be your best guys. Outside of Henrik, do you feel that that has been the case often enough in this series?
JT: “I’m not about in Game 4 to start naming names. We’ve had some people, some secondary players, play some good minutes. I thought a number players through our lineup gave us some good things here. But after I’m not interested in naming names. We’re going to win or lose as a team here. Again, I thought we just didn’t get it done in overtime. I thought we played a pretty good game last night, so we’ll just get ready for another one.”
Q: Can you talk about the overtime issue? Is that becoming a concern for the team?
JT: “They’ve made a play. They’ve scored a couple goals and we haven’t. Before they scored last night, we had a couple of chances. It’s not about a concern. It’s about trying to find a way to win. They have done that in two games here. If we have another opportunity we’re going to go about our business and see if we can get it done.”
Q: Brad Richards talked before the series started about that ‘04 run in Tampa where you guys won one, lost one, won one, lost one, basically from the start of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals through the Cup finals. As a coach, how do you guide a team through that?
JT: “You just get ready for your next game. As I have said, it’s about momentum. I thought going into the overtime we had some really good momentum as far as how we played. Our second period we struggled a bit because we took three penalties, which changed the momentum of the game. But going into the overtime I thought we had really good momentum.”
“Again, they scored a goal on a 2-on-2. They get a win so they’re entering this game with the momentum. We’re just going to try and grab it back — play our game and try to grab back the momentum.”
Q: Are you more encouraged by what you saw from your power play on those first two chances ore are you concerned about the last five where you could’ve put the game away with another goal and you didn’t get one?
JT: “That was the key to the game. We had some good chances to get that third goal, even when it was 2-0 and 2-1 at the time. Staal had a great chance. It was getting that third goal. When we didn’t that you could see in the second period the momentum changed a bit. It turned into a really good hockey game.”
“In the third period, I thought we had the better chances other than a couple spurts by them. I thought we battled hard. We blocked shots during those spurts, but we just weren’t able to find that next goal in the two losses that we’ve had here.”
“Again, I know everybody wants to know what we’re going to do here. We’re going to go out and play. We’re going to practice tomorrow. They’ve away from the game today. We’ll look at some things as far as, really, some of the good things we’ve done. We’re going to go out and play and gain some momentum and maybe score two (wins) in a row.”