A 7-1 start masks a lot of problems. I'm not going to mention any of them because they deserve a post to themselves but something does need to be addressed. The Rangers are 4-8-1 in their last 13 games, an abysmal record considering they lost to the likes of the Islanders and the Wild.
There are very few people who are safe from blame right now. Marian Gaborik, Henrik Lundqvist, Vaclav Prospal, Michael Del Zotto and Ales Kotalik are all okay in my book as of right now. I am not going to get into the failures, you know their names you know their problems.
But when do we as Ranger fans start pointing the finger of blame at John Tortorella? When do we turn our ever whithering gaze on the man who, in my opinion, is just as responsible as the players on the ice. The supposed "reign of terror" that Tortorella is known for is nowhere to be seen. And aside from the select few players mentioned before the New York Rangers are sliding back into that ever familiar "we can care less" attitude. Let's just take a look at some of the things Tortorella is turning a blind eye to.
Where is that fiery "I'll throw your ass onto the bench" attitude Tortorella was supposedly going to bring to the team? Aside from benching Brandon Dubinsky and Chris Higgins during the Montreal game Tortorella's fire has been quelled. And it shows. Players are taking lazy penalties in the offensive zone, they are not hustling back on defense and players are simply abandoning each other when things get physical. Where is the fire John? Where is the anger? Where is holding players accountable?
More after the jump.
What about the defensive pairings? Marc Staal is seeing one of the roughest patches of his career being paired up with Dan Girardi, and for that matter Girardi doesn't look great either. So why keep them together? This is nothing new, this is not surprising news in fact its been like this most of the season. Rozsival and Gilroy have looked bad and Del Zotto and Wade Redden haven't exactly been lighting it up either. So make some changes, do your job as a coach.
And what about last night? Why were Redden and Rozsival on the ice during the final minutes of the game. If John Tortorella has been watching just half the games he should know that Redden and Rozsival are the last choices to score a clutch goal. I know this, you know this but why doesn't Tortorella know this?
The last problem I am seeing and probably the biggest is Tortorella "sticking with the hand he is dealt." Obviously the current team is not working out, obviously we need some defensive help, why not call someone up. Corey Locke is tearing it up in the AHL and Evgeny Grachev seems to be finding his game as well. Give one of them a call up, move Higgins back to the wing, and give the third line a real center. This would benefit the Rangers in many ways including seeing less of Aaron Voros and Donald Brashear.
Just a little quote to prove my point, this is from Steve Zipay's recap last night:
John Tortorella said last night that Matt Gilroy should have prevented game-winner by taking penalty. Great. This after he's been scolding players fro weeks on late-game penalties.
You can probably see where I have a problem with this. Matt Gilroy is the last guy you need to point out for yesterday's game. Maybe Tortorella should have mentioned Redden trying to swat at the puck instead of coming back to make sure that the semi-breakaway never happens. Not to mention that Gilroy came all the way over from the other point to catch up to him. Plus this might just be me but that's one I want Lundqvist to stop, he stayed pretty deep in his crease and I am not sure why.
So where is the coach that can pull a team out of a tale spin? Where is the coach that we all put our trust in to deal with situations like this? Where is John Tortorella ripping this team a new one, and let's be honest some of them deserve it. I don't see him, do you?