Just to follow-up on yesterday’s Rangers post:
Last night against the Isles, coach John Tortorella decided to actually coach and scratched Ales Kotalik, a presence on the powerplay, but not really a top-six forward, and defensemen Wade Redden, who apparently freaked out about the scratch. Chris Drury was demoted to the fourth-line, although by the end of the game, he seemed to have been back in Tortorella’s good graces (but it can be hard to tell with Tortorella’s impressionistic line changes).
The Rangers wound up beating the Isles 5-2, but that says way more about the problems of the Islanders than the success of the Rangers.
The Rangers came out with a lot energy, which seems to indicate Tortorella hasn’t entirely lost his team. But Larry Brooks says there’s work that needs to be done:
There is repair work to be done here, repair work between Tortorella and his players. The Rangers have not quit on the coach. But there appears to be a disconnect between the team and the coach who seems to have divided his athletes — or at least his forwards — in a caste system where the top six are more worthy than the grinders and role players who are essential to any big-time club.
Tortorella knows he needs to move quickly. He can’t let this malaise fester as the Rangers pile up losses. Last night wasn’t a big win over a tough team. It was a big win over a tired Islanders team that missed a wide-open net once and couldn’t get the puck up enough on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who played an incredible game. The Rangers could have lost 6-5 just about as easily as they won 5-2.
The Rangers played better, but not well. Tortorella can keep scratching his big-name players, and that might help short-term, but eventually he needs to figure out a sustainable way to win with his personnel. Scratching Redden doesn’t make the Rangers a playoff-ready team the same way changing a flat tire on a 1987 Fiat doesn’t suddenly make it ready for NASCAR.