Dignity and respect. These are the things John Tortorella wants to bring to this New York Rangers team. Everyone talked about how he was going to "hold veterans accountable," how he was going to "play fast, offensive hockey," how he was going to "light a fire under his team." But those aren't what Torts wanted to emphasize. Torts didn't come in talking about how important it was to play defense by playing offense, though that is the system he teaches, to great effect. He didn't come in talking about how these guys were going to have to feel responsible for their mistakes, though they do, far more than they ever did under Renney.
Torts came in with a message, believe it or not, of good feelings and pride. He talked about reforming some confidence, and he made it clear that no one was to step on our logo in the dressing room. The logo represents the team, and the team is something to be respected. You should feel honored to be a part of this club, and you should feel responsible for representing it. At the end of the day, Torts felt that this is where all of our troubles came from, and that this was what we needed to work on most: the rest we already had - it would come out from that.
It has not taken long for him to be proven right. With 8 games left in the season going into last night, the Rangers produced an effort so lacking in passion and pride that none of the other stuff mattered. And the other stuff was there, too. We scored enough goals (4), we scored enough PPG (2) (although that still only makes us 2 for 10, in a game that astoundingly featured 17 minor penalties), we were reasonably physical (at least, bodies were hitting other bodies) a lot, but it never seemed like we gave a shit about it. It was a lazy first period, sure, but it was also a lazy second, in which we went up 4-1 before giving up the second with 21 seconds left. It was exemplified by Antropov's "would-make-Don-Cherry-proud" "meh" face upon scoring our second goal. We just couldn't get our shit together to care about this game, and we paid for it.
Again, Obernauer's Daily News article wraps things up nicely:
As it happened, Valiquette wound up asking perhaps the only question that really mattered: "Where is our killer instinct when we're playing someone lower in the standings?" It was nowhere to be found last night, certainly not during three 5-on-3s, including one with the score 4-3 in the third period after Kovalchuk took his customary foolish run at Sean Avery that gave the Rangers their chance to take all the momentum back.
Exactly. Where was the killer instinct in this game? How do you give up a 4-1 lead to the 27th team in a league of 30 with 20:21 left to play, at this stage of the season, with points this critical?
Is there a positive takeaway? Always, if you look hard enough. Last night's comes in the form of "at least the coach gets it," which is admittedly becoming a tired argument of mine, but one I'm gonna stick with nonetheless, at least for now. I have taken the liberty of filling in the blanks that were censored by the Daily News and now provide for you the entirety, start-to-finish, with no cuts, of John Tortorella's press conference after last night's game:
[Some reporter asks a question to the effect of "Did you think the team could have played better?"]
"Yeah, I thought we sucked. Right on through the game. I think we're fortunate enough to get a point. We're very fortunate to get that."
[Some reporter asks a question to the effect of "What did you discuss in the locker room after the game?"]
"You know what? I don't give a shit what the guys talked about, I really don't care what the guys talked about. We sucked."
I love our new coach.
One more thing. Sorry to drag this entry on, and I really hate to do this, but as much as I have loved Larry Brooks throughout the years, he really needs to just suck a dick and calm down lately. This reeks. That article actually smells bad. We have 7 games left in our season. Our Jekyll-and-Hyde routine has brought us back and forth between "fighting for home ice" and "fighting for a playoff spot" over and over through the last few weeks, and this is only our new coach's 14th game with the team. There were 17 penalties in the game, in which we took a 4-1 lead before losing 5-4 in a shootout, thanks too a lackadaisical performance on our part and a fantastic one on the part of one of hockey's finest, Ilya Kovalchuk. Brooks, are you telling me that you couldn't find anything else to write about?
No, we barely get a game summary here, because that would get in the way of complaining about the head coach again. We get an entire piece about how unprofessional it was that Torts gave such a short, uninformative press conference. Brooks opens by complaining about Tortorella not choosing Zherdev on the shootout, which is a typical sportswriter move: rather than saying anything about the men the coaches did pick, single out one guy they didn't and talk about how great he is; conclude that the coaches are wrong. He then proceeds to rattle off a few more nondescript "coaching" complaints before whining that Torts didn't give a full press conference, giving a quick game summary, and bringing it all back home with "Torts needs anger management classes."
Really? Really? He didn't lash out and hurt someone. He didn't jump out on the ice and deck Drury when he made his 4th "what the hell am I doing with this puck?" maneuver. He just refused to give you a full breakdown of his coaching thoughts on this one particular night.
Here's the deal, Lar'. Can I call you Lar'? Here's the deal, Lar': we don't want to read about how you think the coach is doing at giving press conferences. We don't want to read your opinions on how he treats the press. We want to read about how you think he's handling our hockey team. I get that you're still pissed off he snubbed you in Tampa. I don't want to keep reading about how you think he's snubbing you. Get over it. He's the head coach of the team you are payed to cover for a living, and despite your bitterness over one press conference 2 years ago, he's doing a pretty good job of it. You were kinda a dick to him, good for you. He was a bigger dick to you, good for him. Now get over it and do your job.