- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
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Rangers coach John Tortorella doesn’t like Stanley Cup talk in January, but he was heartened by Rangers owner James Dolan’s enthusiasm following the team’s 3-0 win over Nashville Tuesday night.
After Dolan’s giddy proclamation that the team was “pretty close” to winning it all in Tuesday’s surreal and spontaneous press conference, Tortorella playfully responded that he thought that was a “bunch of bull----.”
But as much as he cringes whenever the Cup is brought up -- this time by a team owner floored with the Rangers’ recent success -- he appreciates the support.
“I liked his emotion last night as far as being with us and supporting us,” Tortorella said Wednesday. “He’s part of that.”
After his team halted Nashville’s five-game winning streak with a 3-0 shutout win over the Predators to reclaim the lead in the NHL standings, Dolan made a rare appearance to address the media.
Dolan said he was proud of the team and said he thinks they are “pretty close to getting that [Stanley Cup] back.”
The 29-11-4 Blueshirts enjoy a three-point margin on the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference standings and boast a .705 winning percentage that ranks as the team’s best
start in 40 years.
But there is still plenty of work to be done, according to Tortorella. That’s a point of emphasis of which his players -- and owner -- are well aware.
“I think he expressed last night he likes where it’s going and that’s a good thing,” Tortorella said of Dolan. “And he totally understands also that it is a process.”
Word of Dolan’s endorsement made its way through the team dressing room, and while excited that the big boss is pleased with the results, the Rangers are focused at the immediate task ahead.
“Obviously it’s great to get his support. He’s the best owner in professional sports and we’re really fortunate to have him, so the fact that he believes in us, has confidence in us, speaks volumes,” said Brandon Dubinsky. “At the same time, we always focus at one day at a time. You ask me to look ahead and I don’t know if that’s something I want to do.”
“The way this team has been successful has been to take it one day at a time,” Dubinsky continued. “Whether it’s a big win or a crummy loss, it’s been one day and the next day we came back to work. I think
that’s what suits this team the best.”
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who recorded his fourth shutout of the season and 39th of his career against the Predators Tuesday, allows his mind to wander occasionally and ponder the post-season possibilities. Those thoughts are usually fleeting, however. Especially with 38 games still remaining in the regular season.
“It doesn’t matter if someone is talking about it or not, sometimes I catch myself thinking about what’s ahead and how we can be,” Lundqvist said. “but then again you know how much work is ahead of you before getting there so it goes away pretty fast.”