Rangers coach John Tortorella met with the media today to answer any and all questions. Here, we break down the highlights. NOTE: Tortorella would not talk about the New York Post report that he had received a contract extension.
GABBY’S DOWN YEAR: Tortorella said that this wasn’t the true Marian Gaborik this year after he scored just 22 goals. Tortorella is convinced that Gaborik, who scored 42 goals last season in his first year with the Rangers, will do whatever it takes to improve and it helps having seen Gaborik be a top player just one year prior. The coach said that Gaborik cares and admitted that the way the Rangers are built, it’s critical for Gaborik to be a top scorer.
LET’S DO IT AGAIN: Some of the Rangers, like Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust, had the best season of their careers in extended playing time. Tortorella stressed that the players have to do it again to make it legit. Prust had 13 goals and 16 assists, while Boyle scored 21 goals and tallied 14 assists. Tortorella said Boyle was one of the team’s most consistent forwards in the playoffs, while Prust was up and down.
DEL ZOTTO: One of the biggest disappointments for the Rangers this year had to be defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who spent the end of the season in the AHL after struggling. In his rookie year in 2009-10, Del Zotto scored nine goals and 28 assists in 80 games. This season, he notched just two goals and nine assists in 47 games. Tortorella said he’s anxious to see Del Zotto in camp and he will get a fair chance at earning a position on the team. He added that Del Zotto has tremendous promise and the team needs that type of offensive ability from a defender. Tortorella said he’s hopeful Del Zotto will respond next year.
ANY QUARTERBACKS OUT THERE?: Tortorella said the team could use a quarterback on the power play, saying that Bryan McCabe was a shooter but since the team didn’t have a quarterback, he had to do both roles, which didn’t work.
DISAPPOINTED: Tortorella said he’s disappointed because he thought his team could’ve played more games in the series. He added that he was disappointed in some players they were counting on and that disappointment worries him. He further explained that they expected some players to step up, especially with Ryan Callahan out with an injury that he called a huge blow, but they didn’t.
AVERY: Sean Avery played in the final four games of the playoffs, after being a healthy scratch in Game 1. In terms of Avery having a role with the team in the future, as he is under contract for one more year, Tortorella said it’s a matter of consistency. He said Avery played good in the playoffs, but not anything spectacular.
“I have to make decisions each and every game for what is best for the hockey club, and I think I’ve been very fair with that,” Tortorella said. “With Sean, I don’t know where it sits. We go to camp and find out along with a number of other players.”
GILROY: Tortorella listed defenseman Matt Gilroy as a player who he wasn’t sure about three or four months ago, but showed improvement and ended up being one Ranger who tried to make a difference in the playoffs.
NOT A FAN: Tortorella bashed the league’s new rule that devalues shootout victories when determining a tiebreaker for how teams get into the playoffs.
PROSPAL: Tortorella said he didn’t expect Vinny Prospal to return from his knee injury that cost him 53 games, but said that Prospal was very inconsistent when he returned. Prospal is an unrestricted free agent at the age of 36. Tortorella said a team doesn’t want to end in a situation where they sign a player, it ends up being a mistake and it costs another player a spot.
DRURY: Tortorella gave Chris Drury high marks for coming back from an injured knee for the season finale against New Jersey and scoring a goal. He added that the playoffs were a bit of a struggle for Drury, but the team has to evaluate where he fits into the plans because they are going young. Drury is 35 in August and has one year left on his deal, but is also the team captain, which brings respect.
“Intangibles always come into evaluating, you just can’t let the intangibles override other things too,” Tortorella said. “Dru and I have a great relationship with one another. Dru is getting older. That’s why he has this chronic knee. And it’s amazing that he was able to come back when he did. You have to make decisions based on what’s best for the organization moving on. We have to be careful with all this stuff here.”