NEW YORK – Simple fact: Since the lockout, the Ranger were never under .500 this far into the season under Tom Renney.
Yet, in less than a year into the John Tortorella regime, the Rangers stand at 14-15-2.
Say what you want about the Rangers abrasive coach, but the fact is that record is not getting the job done. Renney, for all his flaws, knew how to win on Broadway, something many a good coach could not do.
Maybe, we should add Tortorella to that list. He came here with a reputation as the Anti-Renney, an offensive coach, who is as abrasive and outspoken as he is an up-tempo genius. But now he has a team that just can’t score any goals. Just look at the numbers. In the last 19 games dating back to Oct. 28th, 15 times the Rangers scored two goals or fewer.
And, tonight was no exception with the Rangers scoring just two goals in their 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden.
“Bottom line, we know we have to win,” said goalie Henrik Lundqvist. “We are doing a lot of good things and the work ethic is definitely there. We work really hard. We just come up short a lot of nights. I don’t know what else to say.”
To help Lundqvist out here, the Rangers come up short because they are in an offensive system that doesn’t score. Too many times their all-world goaltender is left naked out there by a very suspect defense filled with two overpriced and underperforming veterans and a bunch of youngsters, who are just learning. Under Renney this worked, because the trapping system masked defensive deficiencies, but they are now exposed under Tortorella.
And that is where the problem just starts. Every night it’s the same story and over the past few weeks changes started to happen. But frankly, they are the wrong ones. Was it really Stephen Valliquette’s fault that the Rangers are playing so poorly? And why was Matt Gilroy sent down and not Wade Redden or Michal Rozsival?
Tortorella was brought in because Renney was considered too nice to bench or demote any of his high priced veterans., but we have failed to see the tough love given to players like Rozsival, Redden, Chris Drury, or Christopher Higgins, all of whom could use a game or two sitting in the stands and maybe one or two of them should be shown the Hartford shuttle. Yet all are enjoying NHL minutes and NHL meal money on an everyday bases.
Earlier in the year, Tortorella was shocked out the press’s reaction when it comes to benchings, saying it’s “treated like crucifixions” here. But how can anyone take his no-nonsense seriously when he refuses to sit down some of his veteran. His rules seem to just be for the players he can push around and not the ones who deserve it. But what do you expect from a coach who benched his best agitator in the playoffs last year, only to make a fool out of himself by squirting a bottle on a few fans.
Is there time to turn this around? Of course. But it also means the team needs a personality transplant. They need to bare down and the veterans need to step up and lead this club, or John Tortorella’s Rangers are destined to become a failure, like many other successful coaches when they came to Broadway.