NEW YORK – John Tortorella didn’t come in with some magic goal scoring serum. And the last time we checked, there haven’t been any miracles to his credit.
Tortorella is just a hockey coach – a good one – but not someone who can turn around the Rangers over night.
Because of that the first two game of the Torts Era, looking a lot like the last 11 of Tom Renney’s reign. The team still can’t score, and they just give up those inopportune goals at the wrong time.
“You can’t hate your guys because they’re struggling,” Tortorella said after the Rangers second 2-1 loss in a row, this time in regulation to the Florida Panthers. “It’s easy to love them when it’s going well and then hate them when it’s going bad. Our best players are going to have to be our best players. And they will. They are going to have every opportunity to get us out of this scoring funk.”
Although the results were the same, the team has taken to Tortorella’s brand of hockey. The effort is there with the players fighting for pucks in the corners, while taking it up a night. This style is very different from Renney, which had his team play back, looking for opportunities.
That worked when your top two scorers were Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan, but it doesn’t work with Scott Gomez and Markus Naslund. So something needed to change and maybe the players needed this kick in the butt, as Tortorella is making the Rangers, maybe a little more self assured on the ice.
“Hopefully it helps us get some confidence,” said Ranger captain Chris Drury. “I know a loss and two points that were are not going to get back, but there were a lot of good things done both nights. It’s nice to get back to work tomorrow and start to prepare for Colorado.”
There’s a lot of work still to be done. First the Rangers need to keep pressuring the net at every chance they get. They also need to take advantage of their chances. The power play is still awful and Tortorella needs to keep working. Maybe if general manager Glen Sather can bring in another scorer, the team may get some relief.
But do you really trust the Rangers GM to bring in someone solid? Sure he lucked out with Sean Avery and Paul Mara is a solid player. But this is also the guy who torpedoed the 2006 playoffs by getting Sandis Ozolinsh, and then brought in his clone in Christian Backman last season.
Sather’s track record at the deadline really doesn’t inspire much confidence.
This team will have to probably go about it along. Even if they can re-add Avery, there will be little front line scoring. Tortorella was positive after the loss, probably surprising some, which might be the most interesting part of the night.
“I think we did some really good things,” he said. “Our pressure was outstanding. I don’t think we were fatigued. Maybe for a few minutes, but I think we controlled the game and we played a hell of a game.”
Yet, they get not points for the effort. Tortorella needs to get wins and get them now, because if he doesn’t, this season will be on him and he will become the coach that didn’t make the playoffs, not Tom Renney.