New York Hockey: john tortorella

Torts won't 'criticize' Rangers' struggles

October, 22, 2013
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- In his first trip back to New York since getting the ax from the New York Rangers last spring, John Tortorella refused to take the bait when asked about his former team’s struggles.

The Rangers, who dismissed Tortorella after the team’s second-round exit from the playoffs, have stumbled to a 2-5-0 start this season under new coach Alain Vigneault. Tortorella and Vigneault traded places, with the former taking the head-coaching job in Vancouver.

“I don’t work there anymore and I’m certainly not going to criticize. I know nothing about what’s going on with the club. That’s not fair to anybody,” Tortorella said during the Vancouver Canucks' morning skate Tuesday on Long Island.

Tortorella’s firing wasn’t exactly a surprising one -- his harsh, tough-love personality had worn thin among his charges -- but he did have success during his time coaching in New York.

Prior to last year’s playoff appearance, Tortorella led the Rangers to the Eastern Conference finals.

Tortorella also cultivated a strong, hardworking identity for the Blueshirts, one that hasn’t been apparent in the opening weeks of this season.

The Rangers may not miss his daily barking, but they are no longer reaping the benefits of a stingy, defense-minded system that allowed them to grind teams down and rack up wins.

Meanwhile, Tortorella’s new team in Vancouver hasn’t taken the Western Conference by storm, either. The Canucks are 5-4-1 heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Islanders.

Like the good old days in New York, Tortorella was clipped in his response to questions about any other team but his own. He did offer some nice words about his former team, however.

“I’m not getting involved in that,” he said. “I’ll tell you something: I loved working for the Rangers. I love everything about the area.”

W2W4: Rangers at Coyotes

October, 3, 2013
At a glance: The Rangers open their 2013-14 season Thursday night against Phoenix with hopes of shutting the door on a disappointing end to last year and embracing the "clean slate" philosophy of new coach Alain Vigneault. Vigneault will be behind the bench for his first regular-season game since replacing John Tortorella this summer. His team struggled in the preseason -- notching only one win in six exhibition games -- and is in dire need of a strong start, considering the nine-game road trip the Rangers must endure to begin the season.

First up: The Rangers face off against a Phoenix Coyotes team that is aiming to get back to the playoffs after missing the cut last spring. They have strong goaltending in Mike Smith and one of the most well-regarded coaches in the game in Dave Tippett, and have added to their roster since last year. The team's biggest off-season acquisition (well, beyond a stable ownership group) was the signing of center Mike Ribeiro, who had a dynamite year with the Capitals in 2013 playing alongside Alex Ovechkin.

Missing in action: As expected, the Rangers will be without two of their top-six forwards -- captain Ryan Callahan and speedy winger Carl Hagelin, both of whom are rehabbing shoulder injuries. Though Callahan is very close to returning, neither player will be in the lineup Thursday. The Rangers need their depth players to step up during their teammates' absences.

Big year for Brad: In desperate need of a bounce-back year, Brad Richards will start the season with a different look. Vigneault has penciled in the veteran center to play left wing on the team's first line with fellow pivot Derek Stepan and Rick Nash. Richards has played wing previously in his career, but never as a Ranger.

Step by Step: The recently signed Stepan did not have the luxury of any preseason games to acclimate to the action. The 23-year-old center missed more than a week of camp because of a contract stalemate that finally came to a halt last week. He has not played in an NHL game of any kind since the team's second-round series against the Boston Bruins last spring.

Pressure's on, Hank: Team MVP Henrik Lundqvist vowed to not let his looming contract situation become a distraction, but he's playing for a large payday. The former Vezina Trophy winner, who said Thursday he is removing himself from negotiations during the season, is seeking a significant raise from the $6.875 million he is set to make this year. Should he continue his stellar play from the past two seasons, he can very well expect to become the highest-paid goaltender in the game.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Devils

September, 16, 2013
At a glance: The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils open the 2013 NHL preseason with a clash between division rivals. Both teams are coming off disappointing seasons last year; the Rangers were unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs in the second round while the Devils missed the post-season entirely.

There will be some new faces added to the rivalry as well. Gone are the days of epic feuds between coaches John Tortorella and Pete DeBoer. The Rangers now have the much more affable Alain Vigneault behind the bench. Meanwhile, the Devils are now without their top forward in Ilya Kovalchuk, who bolted for the Kontinental Hockey League this summer, though they added former Ranger Jaromir Jagr.

First-line debut: Chris Kreider, Brad Richards and Rick Nash will comprise the Rangers' top line Monday night when they take a trip across the Hudson to face the Devils at Newark's Prudential Center. Kreider, who was inconsistent in 2013 after a sizzling NHL debut during the playoffs of 2012, has been impressive in the opening days of training camp while Richards is looking to turn the page on a devastating 2013 and start the year with a "clean slate."

They meet again: Vingeault probably thought he'd never have to answer another question about Cory Schneider again, right? Not so fast. Despite escaping the never-ending goaltending saga in Vancouver, the two men will meet again Monday when Schneider suits up for his first game as a New Jersey Devil and gets the start against his former Canucks coach. Schneider was acquired by New Jersey in a surprising draft-day trade in June. Keith Kinkaid will back him up, according to the Bergen Record, while Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot are expected to split time in nets for the Rangers.

Veterans out: Neither veteran stars Patrik Elias nor Jagr will play Monday for the Devils. Though Elias told reporters Monday morning that he was uninjured and simply taking a day to rest, Jagr is battling a "lower-body" injury suffered in the first day of camp.

No time to Staal: After a derailed attempt to return during the playoffs last spring, Rangers defenseman Marc Staal is back in the lineup after an off-season to recover from the harrowing eye injury that sidelined him for half of last season.

Staal, who was struck in the eye with a puck in a game against the Flyers in March, is aiming to play four of the six exhibition games during the preseason.

OK to play: Rangers Defenseman Stu Bickel, who missed Sunday’s scrimmage with a back injury, is expected to play. Should he be unavailable, the Rangers will use defensive prospect Dylan McIlrath to replace him in the lineup.

Highlights of Rangers' 2013-14 schedule

July, 19, 2013
The Rangers will play in the newly formed Metropolitan Division in 2013-14 along with the Devils, Islanders, Flyers, Penguins, Hurricanes, Blue Jackets and Capitals. Instead of the usual six divisions, there are four: Metropolitan, Atlantic, Pacific and Central.

Some highlights from the Rangers' schedule, which was released Friday:

[+] EnlargeJohn Tortorella
Jeff Vinnick/NHLI/Getty ImagesJohn Tortorella, the Rangers' former coach, returns to MSG with the Canucks on Nov. 30.
• The Rangers will open the season in Phoenix on Oct. 3. They'll start with nine straight road games, due to the third and final phase of renovations to Madison Square Garden. The Rangers have not had a nine-game road trip since the 1955-56 season.

• The home opener will be Oct. 28 against Montreal.

• The Rangers will face the Devils and Islanders on Jan. 26 and Jan. 29 at Yankee Stadium.

• The Rangers will face every team in their new division four times, but will face the Devils and Islanders five times apiece due to the outdoor games.

• The Rangers and Canucks basically swapped head coaches this offseason. John Tortorella makes his return to MSG on Nov. 30, while Alain Vigneault visits Vancouver on April 1.

Rick Nash makes his return to Columbus for the first time as an opposing player on Nov. 7.

• The Rangers' nine-game homestand (Dec. 7-23) is the longest in franchise history.

• The regular-season finale will be April 12 in Montreal.

Click here for the Rangers' full schedule.

Torts reflects on time with Rangers

July, 3, 2013
Canucks HC John Tortorella says he and Henrik Lundqvist had a great relationship and no one prepares or competes harder.

Quiet draft day ahead for Rangers?

June, 30, 2013
Without a pick in either of the first two rounds of Sunday's 2013 NHL draft, the Rangers may be in store for a pretty quiet rest of the day following the acquisition of depth defenseman Justin Falk Sunday morning.

Even with some marquee names bandied about as trade talk intensifies -- Tyler Seguin, Kris Letang, Jeff Skinner -- the Rangers lack the salary cap space to make a major splash on the draft day floor.

With the announcement that the team will not exercise its one existing compliance buyout this summer (granting struggling center Brad Richards a one-year reprieve, at least), the Rangers have very little room to maneuver.

Team president and general manager Glen Sather could try and package some of his three third-round picks (the Rangers gave up a first-rounder in the trade for Rick Nash, a second-rounder in the acquisition of Ryane Clowe) to move up in the order, but a significant trade seems highly unlikely.

Richards' cap charge of $6.67 million, and the status of restricted free agents Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan, seems to squash any hope of a significant upgrade from last year’s personnel.

As speculated at season’s end, it is possible the Rangers could dangle promising young defenseman Michael Del Zotto as trade bait, though the concern is being able to find a capable defenseman to replace him at the right price.

The team did add a depth defenseman in Falk , acquiring the 24-year-old from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for minor-league forward Benn Ferriero and a sixth-round pick in 2014.

The team’s relative state of inactivity will likely carry over into the free agency period as well, when the market opens on July 5.
Though the Rangers are interested in adding depth down the middle (Matt Hendricks is an enticing option as a pending unrestricted free agent) and still desperately need a right-handed defenseman who can man the power play (Letang, anyone?) they will likely move forward with the same group that made it to the Eastern Conference semifinals this spring.

There were plenty of fireworks once the Rangers made a hasty exit from the second round as the team dismissed polarizing coach John Tortorella and replaced him with the affable, gentlemanly Alain Vigneault, but, save for the critical contract negotiations for franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, there is unlikely to be much by way of headlines for the rest of this summer.

Sather’s not shy about big-game hunting, of course, but with the salary cap’s significant reduction and the Rangers’ money already tied up in players like Richards, Lundqvist and Rick Nash, expect the next few weeks to be pretty anticlimactic.

Field narrows in Rangers' coaching search

June, 12, 2013
The Rangers' coaching search continues, and their list of candidates has been whittled down with Wednesday's news out of Pittsburgh of Dan Bylsma's extension.

Another candidate the Rangers had sought out, former Toronto Marlies coach Dallas Eakins, was announced as Ralph Kruger's replacement in Edmonton on Monday.

Rangers general manager Glen Sather, looking for a coach to replace the recently dismissed John Tortorella, was believed to have been keenly interested in Bylsma. The 2011 Jack Adams Award recipient is no longer available, though, as Penguins general manager Ray Shero bucked mounting pressure following his team's third-round exit and backed Bylsma.

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Shero announced that the Penguins had given Bylsma a two-year extension.

So, who is left?

Alain Vigneault, the former coach of the Vancouver Canucks, appears to be the front-runner, although the Rangers are not the only team in hot pursuit.

It is believed that the Stars are also enamored with Vigneault, though they have recently expressed interest in others (such as Tortorella, as reported Tuesday).

Vigneault interviewed with Sather and fellow Rangers executives at the team's annual organizational meetings in La Quinta, Calif., on Tuesday and is believed to have made a strong case for himself.

The Rangers have also obtained permission from Buffalo to speak with Lindy Ruff, though it is not immediately clear whether they have set a firm date to interview the former Sabres coach.

And let's not forget the Rangers' own Mark Messier, who emerged as a bit of a surprising candidate on the heels of Tortorella's dismissal two weeks ago.

The former captain, now an executive within the organization, expressed interest in the position, though he has no NHL coaching experience.

The Rangers could also be interested in Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, should he become available. Though Coyotes GM Don Maloney told via email recently that the organization intends to keep Tippett, the team's tenuous future could be an obstacle.

During a news conference in Chicago on Wednesday afternoon prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman discussed the possibility of relocation for the Coyotes. Quebec City and Seattle are believed to be the front-runners should the team leave Glendale, but multiple sources indicated to that Tippett might not necessarily be on board should the club move.

On a conference call with reporters following the Tortorella decision, Sather said he'd like to have a coach in place by the NHL draft on June 30.

Bylsma could be top candidate

June, 10, 2013
Count Glen Sather as someone who will be keeping tabs on what happens in Pittsburgh this week.

Though the Rangers general manager and president is convening his staff for annual organizational meetings in La Quinta, Calif., he'll likely be interested to see what his Penguins counterpart, GM Ray Shero, does with head coach Dan Bylsma in the wake of Pittsburgh's stunning exit from the postseason.

Shero, whose star-studded Penguins squad was unceremoniously swept by the Bruins on Friday, faces a difficult decision in determining whether to dismiss Bylsma, a former Jack Adams Award winner, following the shocking defeat.

[+] EnlargeDan Bylsma
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaDan Bylsma was the NHL's coach of the year as recently as 2011.
If Shero does decide to make a change -- or Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux pre-empts that decision -- you can assume Bylsma will jump to the top of the Rangers' wish list to fill their head coaching vacancy.

The Rangers would first need permission to speak with Bylsma,considering he has time remaining on his contract with Pittsburgh.

Sather, who dismissed John Tortorella following the Rangers' second-round exit, has already sought and received permission to speak with Alain Vigneault and Dallas Eakins, though the latter is no longer available, as he was named the new head coach of the Edmonton Oilers on Monday.

Longtime Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is also a top candidate, as is the Rangers' own Mark Messier, who has expressed interest in the top job.

This collection of coaching hopefuls is expected to be a hot topic of conversation among Rangers brass this week. After firing Tortorella, Sather said he'd like to have a new coach in place by the NHL draft, to be held in Newark, N.J., on June 30.

The team's staff is also likely to address the potential buyout of alternate captain Brad Richards as well as identify some attractive unrestricted free agents to target.

The Rangers are also looking to lock up franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist long-term this summer, in addition to re-signing key restricted free agents Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan.

Hot Button: Did Torts deserve to be fired?

May, 30, 2013

The Rangers fired John Tortorella on Wednesday -- but did he deserve it? We debate; you decide. Vote now!

BREAKING: Torts fired

May, 29, 2013

NEW YORK -- John Tortorella has been dismissed as head coach of the New York Rangers, a source confirmed to

Tortorella was informed of the decision Wednesday afternoon, the source said.

Click here for the developing news story

Tortorella: 'It falls on me'

May, 25, 2013
John Tortorella Michael Ivins/USA TODAY Sports"It's a big part of my job to get your top players to play consistently, and I couldn''t do that," John Tortorella said on Saturday night.
BOSTON -- For as much as John Tortorella’s postgame news conferences have become a bit of a caricature -- often marked by his abrasive, confrontational and sometimes boorish demeanor -- he was sincere in claiming responsibility after his team’s season-ending defeat.

Following the Rangers’ 3-1 loss to the Bruins in Game 5, Tortorella offered up a lot of reasons the team struggled, both during the game, the series and the entire lockout-shortened season. But he put the onus squarely on himself, too.

One of the Rangers’ most glaring deficiencies was the underwhelming performances by some of the team’s top players. He placed the blame on himself.

"I think one of the big things in this series is I could not -- and it does, it falls on me -- it’s a big part of my job to get your top players to play consistently, and I couldn’t do that," Tortorella said.

The most obvious inability to make that happen came with struggling center Brad Richards, who won a Stanley Cup under Tortorella in 2004 while with the Tamps Bay Lightning.

Richards’ play deteriorated to such a degree that he was demoted to the fourth line then ultimately scratched for the last two games.

But, he was not alone in failing to step up.

Joining the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner in a disappointing playoff performance was newcomer Rick Nash, who notched only one goal in his first postseason as a New York Ranger.

The premier winger, acquired in a blockbuster trade with Columbus this past summer, was ineffective in both the team’s series against Washington and Boston.

The 28-year-old Nash was limited to just five points in 12 games and he didn’t score his first goal of the 2013 playoffs until Game 3 of Round 2. In Game 5 on Saturday, he didn’t get a shot on goal until the third period. Nash didn't even respond when Boston's Milan Lucic tried to bully him with a brutish few shoves to the chest; he just skated away with no response.

"It’s heartbreaking," Nash said in a brief postgame interview. "We have a good team, good season, and we just couldn’t get the job done."

Though he battled through a lingering wrist issue since midseason, he insisted he wasn’t dealing with an injury.

He clearly was one of those players Tortorella couldn’t get enough from.

"We tried, and so I need to take some responsibility and try to get them in those spots to help us here. I thought that hurt us a little bit," Tortorella said.

Even captain Ryan Callahan wasn’t the same type of tone-setting sparkplug or offensive catalyst his team has come to expect, though he had two goals during the playoffs.

Callahan had one of the best scoring opportunities of the game for the Rangers, but his backhanded breakaway attempt went wide.

"It sucks," Callahan said. "There’s no worse feeling than this. We had a good team this year. It’s frustrating."
Henrik LundqvistJared Wickerham/Getty ImagesSaid Henrik Lundqvist after Saturday's Game 5 loss: "The hardest feeling is just realizing it's over."
BOSTON -- In between long, labored pauses and a few disheartened sighs, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist kept coming back to the same refrain in searching for answers after the team’s season-ending loss to Boston in Game 5 on Saturday.

This year had a “different feel,” he kept repeating.

And it did.

The Rangers’ last game of the season -- a 3-1 loss to the Bruins -- was indicative of the team’s arc throughout the year: high hopes that ultimately fell painfully short.

“I expected more from us and I hoped for more,” said Lundqvist, who finished Game 5 with 29 saves.

Coming off a trip to the Eastern Conference finals last season, the Rangers were a popular preseason pick for Stanley Cup projections: a strong core group of players now equipped with playoff experience, a reigning Vezina Trophy Winner in goal and a premier player added in star winger Rick Nash.

On paper, the team looked fearsome. In reality, they just weren’t.

Struggling to even make the cut of the top eight teams in the East, the Rangers' shortcomings were conspicuous against a deep, balanced, physical and experienced Bruins team -- one that remained largely intact from their Stanley Cup Championship run two years ago.

[+] EnlargeNew York Rangers
Alex Trautwig/Getty ImagesThe Rangers' hard-nosed, blue-collar, lunch-pail mentality was conspicuously absent at times.
“They deserved to win this series,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “They were the better team.”

Depth was the biggest reason, as the Bruins fed off rookie sensation Torey Krug and a productive fourth line Saturday night.

With the Bruins trailing 1-0 in the second period, Krug notched his fourth goal in five games -- a power-play goal at 3:48. Not bad for a 22-year-old defenseman who made his NHL playoff debut in Game 1 of the series.

Gritty fourth-liner Gregory Campbell tallied twice, chipping in both the go-ahead goal in the third and an empty-netter with less than a minute to play. The son of former Rangers coach Colin Campbell, along with linemates Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille, were difference-makers all series.

“They had a lot of guys contribute throughout the series,” said defenseman Ryan McDonagh. “Obviously tonight, their fourth line gets a goal. They were dangerous the whole series.”

By comparison, the Rangers’ injury-addled back end, without defensemen Marc Staal all five games and Anton Stralman the last two, struggled to contain a well-balanced Bruins attack that seemed, at times, unrelenting.

The Rangers didn't seem to find the requisite intensity or will until the last game and a half, either. They failed to sustain a forecheck. They spent too much time in their own end. And they relied upon Lundqvist with far too much frequency.

For a team that’s hard-nosed, blue-collar, lunch-pail mentality was uncompromising in 2011-12, it lacked that straightforward ethos in a lockout-shortened season that saw a significant changeover in personnel.

“I think, this season, we struggled to get our personality, to get our identity," Tortorella said.

Part of the reason for that was the grind of the shortened season, part was the absence of Tortorella’s notoriously rigorous training camp -- crucial in cultivating that mindset -- and part was the middle-of-the-lineup guys who departed for different locales last summer.

Regardless, this was a different team and not even nearly as dominant. The Rangers always seemed just a bit behind where they should’ve been, a bit short of where expectations had them pegged.

“I think everybody expected big things,” McDonagh said. “It’s tough to play from behind in a lot of series. We were able to show a lot of character and will in the first one [vs. Washington], not that we didn’t show it in this one, it just builds on you and it adds on you and the odds are against you. We were trying to compete all the way to the end.”

Much like both of the Rangers’ first two series, which left them trailing 2-0 after the opening pair of games, the Rangers had to fight to climb the standings. Last season, they pretty much cruised their way to the top of the East, with a conference-best 109 points in the regular season.

“Well, halfway through the season we were in a totally different position compared to last year. That’s why it’s a different feeling,” Lundqvist said. “This game is about winning, and when you’re winning, you have one feeling, and when you’re losing, you have another feeling.”

Perhaps that is the most heartbreaking realization for Lundqvist, who sat in his stall for several minutes after the game, hands on his sweat-drenched cap, trying to absorb the shock of defeat.

The Rangers had a narrow window last year, a really good chance at making a run for the Cup, and it didn’t happen. A veteran like Lundqvist knows that opportunity doesn’t come often.

“Some years you don’t really have a chance to go that far in the playoffs, you just battle hard,” he said. “I think this year we had a pretty good team, but, um, I just think there was a few games where we didn’t reach our top level. When you play a team like Boston, it’s going to be tough to beat them.”

The Rangers managed to take one game -- largely because of a lucky tumble taken by Tuukka Rask that led to a New York goal -- to salvage some pride and avoid a spirit-sapping sweep.

But the Rangers were never going to get past this Bruins squad.

Boston was the better team. And the Rangers weren’t good enough.

“They deserved to win,” Lundqvist said. “No question.”

Rapid Reaction: Bruins 3, Rangers 1

May, 25, 2013
What it means: Depth was the difference Saturday night, and the Bruins outmatched the Rangers in a 3-1 Game 5 victory at TD Garden that sent New York home for the summer. A rookie defenseman and an effective fourth line enabled the Bruins to secure a date with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals, as the Rangers fell painfully short in a lopsided five-game series in which they were thoroughly outplayed. Gregory Campbell notched two goals, including an empty-netter in the last minute of play that made the home crowd erupt.

Difference-makers: The Bruins fourth line of Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille and Campbell, a gritty trio that scored the deciding goal in Game 3, added another big one Saturday night. Capitalizing on a turnover from Rangers defenseman Roman Hamrlik, Paille made a cross-ice feed that bounced off Thornton to Campbell for the go-ahead goal at 13:41.

Kruuuuuuug: With his game-tying power-play marker in the second period, the fans at TD Garden were yelling "Kruuuuuuug!" in appreciation of rookie wonder Torey Krug. The 22-year-old defenseman scored his fourth goal in his first five playoff games, with a blistering one-timer that beat Henrik Lundqvist short side to knot the score at 1 at 3:48.

Power surge: No, that’s not a typo. For the second time in as many games, the Rangers notched a power-play goal with Dan Girardi’s slap shot that beat a screened Rask for a 1-0 Rangers lead at 10:39 of the first. The maligned unit has now tallied as many goals in the past two games as it managed on its previous 39 attempts during the playoffs.

Second scratch: For the second straight game, veteran Brad Richards was scratched. The struggling 33-year-old center sat out Thursday as the team faced elimination on Game 4, and, following the Rangers’ 4-3 overtime win, Tortorella stuck with the same lineup for Saturday.

Boost on back end: The Bruins returned Dennis Seidenberg to the lineup for the first time since the veteran defenseman was injured in the team’s first-round series against Toronto. Seidenberg replaced Dougie Hamilton, while rookie defensemen Matt Bartkowski and Krug remained in the lineup.

Rough stuff: Tough guys Thornton and Derek Dorsett dropped the gloves in the first period, a fight that kept going even after officials tried to separate the two players. Both received five for fighting and an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. Dorsett racked up 11 PIM in total throughout the course of the game.

Torts: 'There's no give'

May, 24, 2013

Veteran center Brad Richards, who was a surprising healthy scratch for Game 4 on Thursday, did not skate with the team in practice on Friday. Instead, the 33-year-old captain skated earlier in the morning with the rest of the extra players and scratches from Thursday night.

Assume that to mean that the lineup will not change for Game 5 on Saturday in Boston.

In avoiding a series sweep by the Bruins with a 4-3 overtime win Thursday, the Rangers improved to 6-1 over the past two seasons in elimination games, 3-0 this season.

Why has the team been so good when facing do-or-die situations?

"There's no give," coach John Tortorella said.

The only player in the lineup Thursday who was not on the ice Friday was overtime hero Chris Kreider, who notched the winner at 7:03 to send the series to Boston. Kreider took a "maintenance day," according to the team; he is expected to play Saturday.

Rangers dig 0-2 hole ... again

May, 19, 2013
TortorellaSteve Babineau/Getty ImagesJohn Tortorella is confident the Rangers can rally from down 0-2 against the Bruins.
BOSTON -- For the New York Rangers, this has to feel all too familiar.

After dropping the first pair of games on the road, including Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, the Rangers are left scrambling to surmount a 2-0 series deficit to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Rangers faced the same hole in Round 1 against the Washington Capitals after Games 1 and 2 in Washington, D.C., but this Bruins team seems to possess the killer instinct the Capitals distinctly lacked.

That much was on display when the Bruins took over the game in the third period, ripping it open with a critical goal 26 seconds into play.

“We gave it to them,” goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said.

It was the first time this playoffs that Lundqvist gave up more than three goals and the first time he has surrendered five since April 26, 2009, in Game 6 of the Rangers’ first-round series against the Capitals.

Lundqvist didn’t elaborate on the how or the why, but he wasn’t the one that should’ve shouldered the explaining.

[+] EnlargeRangers/Bruins Game 2
Michael Ivins/USA TODAY SportsThe Rangers head to MSG trailing the Bruins 0-2.
The Rangers struggled against the rush, and gave up far too many scoring opportunities, leaving their reigning Vezina Trophy winner prone as the last line of defense against a speedy and skilled Bruins team that exploited a strong transition game.

“I think we gave them a bit too many scoring chances,” said forward Rick Nash, who notched his first goal of the playoffs in the second period. “We can’t be giving them that many chances against our goaltender.”

Despite a strong second period, the Rangers entered the third trailing 3-2 before the Bruins quickly extended their lead just 26 seconds into play.

In a play that bore an eerie resemblance to the Bruins’ overtime game-winner in Game 1, Patrice Bergeron set up Brad Marchand on the rush for a tip-in that gave the Bruins a two-goal lead.

It was the same tandem, and virtually the same play, that sealed Game 1 and left Lundqvist stewing over his decision. After that game, Lundqvist was critical of himself for focusing too much on the player with the puck and the technical mistake that resulted.

But Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi placed the blame on himself for this one. It was a rough game for Girardi, who was on the ice for all five Bruins goals.

“On that fourth goal, I’ve either got to take that pass away or the guy, so obviously some coverage [mistakes] there,” he said.

Coach John Tortorella said both the third goal -- Johnny Boychuk’s wrister that beat Lundqvist at 12:08 of the second -- and the fourth could’ve been stopped.

Tortorella praised the team’s play in the second period but wasn’t pleased with some of those breakdowns.

“The third and fourth goals are defendable. We made coverage mistakes," Tortorella said. "Our second period is where we want to be. We can’t put it in the net. We had multiple chances … to have that [fourth] goal go in, on the 2-on-2, it hurts you.”

Lundqvist, who finished with 27 saves, said the game was difficult for him.

“This game was about tracking down pucks and it was tough. A lot of late guys coming in, dragging the puck through the slot with guys in front of me,” he said. “It definitely was a tough game to play, no question.”

[+] EnlargeRangers/Bruins Game 2
Michael Ivins.USA TODAY SportsThe Rangers tried to fight back in Game 2 and lost.
Tortorella defended Lundqvist when asked to assess his play.

“I’m not going to evaluate our goaltender,” he said. “We know what Henrik is.”

Marchand finished with a goal and an assist, while Bruins rookie defenseman Torey Krug tallied his second goal in as many games -- the first two of his NHL playoff career. Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask was stellar in goal for Boston, turning away 35 of 37 shots.

The Rangers had plenty of chances during the game, especially considering a slew of turnovers from the Bruins in the first half but couldn’t convert. The team’s power play also showed signs of life, but had nothing to show for it.

The Rangers were 0-for-5 on the power play, which leaves them 0-for-8 on the series and 2-for-36 in nine playoff games.

“Yeah, it’s frustrating,” Nash said. “Especially when you’re supposed to crawl back in the game or take the lead.”

At least the Rangers can take some comfort in the fact that they have pulled themselves out of a 2-0 hole before. But, this isn’t a front-loaded Capitals team with a reputation for underachieving playoff performances. This is a confident Bruins squad that has remained largely intact since winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.

“If we’re going to win a game, and that’s all we’re looking at, we’re going to have to be better,” Tortorella said.

He’s confident that will happen.

“Listen, we don’t want to lose two games here. No one does,” Tortorella said. “But there’s no give in the team. There will be no give in this team.”