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Tortorella cryptic about 'adjustments'

5/18/2013

BOSTON -- Rangers coach John Tortorella is usually unflinchingly blunt, answering questions with the delicacy of a sledgehammer, but he was cryptic in talking about his team Friday.

When asked if any significant adjustments were necessary following the Rangers' 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1, he conceded that changes were needed. But he made an important distinction that piqued curiosity about what those might be.

"To me, it’s not so much on the ice," Tortorella said. "There’s some other adjustments we have to go through. I’m not gonna tell you, but there are some other adjustments we have to go through and a lot of it really isn’t on the ice."

When pressed further about the nature of these "adjustments," Tortorella declined to elaborate.

"Don’t start pushing me on that," he said. "I really don’t want to talk too much about it."

Midway through the next question -- unrelated to the topic -- Tortorella circled back to the previous question: "I’ll answer that question later in the series," he said.

How much later in the series?

"I’m not sure."

Tortorella was asked if it was a mentality or focus issue, but he again declined to say anything else.

"I’m not saying that," he said. "I’ll answer that question later in the series."

Whatever Tortorella is not discussing with the media, whether it be mindset, preparedness, intensity level or a whole other slew of possibilities, rest assured he has already addressed it with his team heading into Game 2 on Sunday.

Despite two off days between games, the Rangers seemed a bit contentious Friday even for a team trailing 1-0 to start the series. Two players bristled about otherwise pretty innocuous questions, and there seemed to be a sense of rigidity within the room.

Tortorella, though, actually provided moments of levity in a news briefing Friday that covered a wide range of topics.

Among them was Carl Hagelin’s conspicuous absence on the power play.

The skilled and speedy winger, who flanks center Derek Stepan and captain Ryan Callahan on the team’s top line, has excelled at even strength since joining the team last year. But he is seldom used on the man advantage.

Why?

"Because he stinks on the power play," Tortorella said.

Tortorella admitted he was baffled about this.

"I think he’s too quick," he said. "He’s a jitterbug, and he screws it up."

Tortorella did say he "loves the kid" and that, considering how abysmal the power play has been, Hagelin might get a look after all.

The Rangers were 0-for-3 on the man advantage Thursday; they are 2-for-31 in eight games during the playoffs.

"Our power play stinks," Tortorella said. "Yeah, it’s true. So, that’s why he may get an opportunity. I’m not sure whether he will or not."

To wrap up the day, Tortorella ended his news conference with critical thoughts on veteran players being hurt by not playing in the lockout.

"Some guy that didn’t go and play, it has affected," he said. "I think older players should’ve played. I think older players, even if it’s not a lockout, need to do even more as far as conditioning, as far as being on the ice."

It’s hard not to interpret such comments as an indictment against alternate captain Brad Richards. The veteran center is known for a steadfast commitment to conditioning, but he did not play during the lockout. He has struggled at various points throughout the 2013 season, and most recently, he was demoted to the fourth line.

Tortorella referenced but did not name two players he coached as an assistant in Buffalo in 1994-95 that might have jeopardized their careers in abstaining from playing during the 1994 lockout.

"Some guys feel because they’re veteran and they’re up in age that they need to rest. I’ve seen guys’ careers end quickly because they’re not doing enough," he said. "They need to be on the ice more. That’s the way I feel about it. People may not agree with it, but I really believe that."