Except this time it did matter. The Rangers had no heart, they had no passion, they didn't care and it showed. John Tortorella's return to Tampa Bay was ruined, and good; Tortorella deserved to get nothing from this one. His boys came out flat and he did nothing to change them. Few Rangers came out to play tonight and I include Tortorella in that category.
The first period was all Lightning, aside from a secluded minute where the Rangers moved the puck well and Sean Avery took a perfect feed from Marian Gaborik and rang his shot off the post. Steve Stamkos snapped home his 16th of the year finishing a pretty pass from Martin St. Louis and as the period drew to a close Kurtis Foster scored a power play goal with Ales Kotalik sitting in the box. The Rangers were outplayed all period and I was actually quite surprised that John Tortorella didn't call a time out, especially in the beginning moments of the first when the Rangers were getting completely dominated. Regardless hats off to Tampa Bay who came out firing and had the Rangers on their heels the entire period.
The second period continued to be bad for the Rangers. With Artem Anisimov sitting in the box for a high sticking penalty the Lightning went on yet another power play. It was there that Stamkos took the puck all the way from the point to the slot with Michael Rozsival just backing up and giving him space. Rozsival then let Stamkos pass the puck to St. Louis and then stand there as Steve Downie banged the puck home. You may not blame Rozsival here but I do, play the man with the puck or if you do decide to hang back don’t let the puck get past you.
I'm sorry but here is yet another gripe I have with Tortorella, Rozsival is playing horrible hockey right now; why is he on the ice in key moments? I know that Wade Redden is out but Michael Rozsival is just a waste of a hockey player right now.
Shortly following that goal Lighting scored again after Bobby Sanguinetti couldn't keep Paul Szczechura off the puck and he banked the puck in to make it 4-0. That goal chased Henrik Lundqvist, who didn't play as horrible as the score line would indicate but he didn't play a good game.
The third period was basically an encore of the other two, from all respects. The Lightning continued to dominate the play and scored their fifth goal (Foster scored his second, another rocket this time right off the faceoff). Nothing changed, including the Rangers play.
I’m going to put this here because it is way too important for the empty netters section below. I fully believe that John Tortorella has lost or is losing this team. No John Tortorella team should come out and play like this consistently, which they have been. As Jim said to me during the game "this nice little two game winning streak will probably turn into a three game losing streak." If the Rangers keep playing like this who can blame us for the thought?
If I hear Sam Rosen or Joe Micheletti say the phrase "The Rangers need to generate some scoring chances" or "The Rangers need a spark right now" I am going to punch a baby. We know boys, shut up and call the game, we are irritable as is.
Jim mentioned this during the game but big props to Brian Boyle for taking one for the team and fighting in the second period. He isn't a fighter and got the crap kicked out of him to try and spark the team. Good for you Boyle, the boys let you down tonight.
Look Chris Higgins might be playing really well but if he doesn’t start scoring I say relegate him to the 3rd or even 4th line. I know he makes the moves and gets some shots but he simply isn’t scoring and it’s hurting this team, period. He needs to step it up big time.
The same goes for Ryan Callahan who is not scoring goals and unlike Higgins is not getting many chances. He had a few tonight and didn’t bury them, of course. (I wrote this recap before the game was over and don't feel like changing it. He scored to make it 5-1 (congrats) but the point still stands, where was that for the past 16 games? I don't want to be too hard on him because he works his ass off and is one of the few Rangers who I really think cares but the point has to be made.)
On the bright side if Tortorella does make the call to go with Lundqvist tomorrow against the Penguins he has half a game off. Personally if I were a betting man I would say that Steve Valiquette starts tomorrow, just a hunch.
Won’t have to sit on this one for long as the Rangers play the Penguins in Pittsburgh tomorrow. Vent here my friends, the floor is yours.