Friday, January 14, 2011
Torts: "I'd try to break his ankle"
By Mike Hume
We got to see a couple of sides to Ranger bench boss John Tortorella in the postgame press conference Thursday night. We saw Jocular Tortorella as he braced for the grief he'd receive after proclaiming tonight's game would not end in a 1-0 win. There was Proud Tortorella who applauded his team's sterling defensive effort in shutting out the NHL's second-highest scoring team. And then there was the Tortorella you would never want to trifle with on the ice.
Amid his glowing reviews of his team's performance, Tortorella lashed out at the spear Vancouver's Mason Raymond Alex Burrows (sorry, Mason. And thanks to our commenter for the correction.) used to impale Marc Staal.
"It's ridiculous. It's dangerous," Tortorella said. "The thing that bothers me is: How don't you see it? ... And we end up down, which usually happens when you retaliate. But if I'm Marc Staal, I'd retaliate too. I'd try to break his ankle."
Mental note: Do not spear John Tortorella. Hopefully that doesn't apply to when he gets skewered in the press as well.
While that was certainly the most colorful quote of the night, it wasn't the only one. Getting back to jocular Tortorella for a second ...
"I was hoping they'd tie it up and we'd win 2-1 in overtime," he said to open the presser, before diving into his assessment of the win.
"It was the little things, the little battles and everyone contributed ... We played harder tonight than in the Montreal game. I don't think we played badly in Montreal, but tonight was just a grittier effort."
That said, Tortorella noted that he and the coaches would still be looking for a little more grind from its top-line guys: Marian Gaborik and Wojtek Wolski.
"I think that line tonight needs to understand there's some grind in the game too," he said. "It can be a dangerous line offensively, but they need a little teaching to understand the grind. That's who we are and that's not coming out of our game. No one is exempt from adding grind to their game.
"I talked to Wooly [Wolski] on the bench during a timeout and told him that this was where we were going to teach him and where he would have to progress."
Tortorella spoke earlier today that he didn't look at playing a top team like Vancouver as a way to gauge the Rangers' ability and afterward he stuck by that stance.
"I don't want to put one game up against another," he said. "It was a good answer for us. And that's what we talked about. That Montreal game was a tough loss ... We came back and answered and I don't think we came in through the back door. We played the game we needed to play.
"I think we're a good team, but it's more important that the players things we're a good team."
It certainly seemed like there was some buy-in on that count in the Rangers locker room.
"Obviously I respect Vancouver, but I think we're a good team too," Boyle said. "We play our way we've got a pretty good chance at winning every night ... Right from the start no one was scared no one was worried."
When asked if the players took notice of the fact they just beat a team that sits atop the NHL standings, Boyle responded: "Oh, we notice. It says we're a pretty good team. It's great to be a part of it and a lot of fun."
As noted by Tortorella, Boyle's line did yeoman's work shutting down the Sedins, two of one of the NHL's most lethal scorers.
"They blocked a ton of shots. You have to give them a lot of credit," Henrik Sedin said.
"They forechecked hard and the blocked a lot of shots," Daniel echoed. "We needed to focus on shooting to the side of the net and getting to rebounds. But we weren't on our game and they seem to block a lot of shots when you're not on your game."
(Special thanks to ESPN The Magazine's Lindsay Berra for snagging the quotes from the Sedins, and more notably for successfully telling them apart.)
The Blueshirts' defensive unit has been the subject of much discussion since the trade that sent Michal Rozsival out of town. After shutting out the Canucks, they were predictably the center of some well-deserved media attention.
"We were playing pretty solid, not opening up too much. They were taking some chances and we were able to stop them" said Staal. "Hank made the saves as he's done all season long and as a team, defensively, we've always been confident going into the third period."
Staal pointed out how the team is bugging Steve Eminger about being the old man on the blue line, a "wily veteran" at all of 27.
He and his partner, Michael Sauer, also performed very well tonight.
"They have good lines all the way through so everyone's gotta be sharp," Sauer said. "You've gotta keep it simple and get pucks out because they come hard. I was hitting the boards pretty hard trying to make plays.
"Rosey[Rozsival] was a key player for us but the coaching staff has confidence in us and you want to rise up and play well for us and for your team."
"They're playing well, playing confident. They've got a lot of speed, they're good skaters," Lundqvist said. "It definitely helps. Hard work paid off tonight."
Here's what Tortorella said about the unit a little later at the presser.
"We have been defending very well and I thought we defended very well tonight," Tortorella said. "Until the last five or six minutes that's when they got the majority of their chances, but most of the middle of the game I thought we did a good job defending. Boyle's line and Staal and Girardi against the Sedin line, they did one helluva job.
"It's a group that continues to improve," Tortorella said. "I'm watching McDonagh very closely to see what his mindset is in a game like this. That's important for us as a team. Especially for a young guy like that, I wanted to see how he was going to play. He had the right type of strut in terms of closing the neutral zone off. All of them contributed."
You'll Get Nothing And Like It
Lundqvist was happy but pretty reserved about his 30th shutout after the game, focusing more on what the win meant for the team instead of his own resume. After the game he tossed his stick into the crowd, but he said he kept the puck as a souvenir.
"Hopefully I can keep it going a little longer," the goalie said, noting upcoming games with Montreal and Philadelphia. "But every shutout is special and this was a big win for us."