The Rangers had just lost 2-1 against the Islanders, with their record falling to 14-16-3. John Tortorella tried to keep his calm with the press—which lasted about as long as Bobby Sanguinetti call-up—and Tortorella had his first meltdown in New York. He vowed that he was okay with hitting "bumps in the road with kids but not underachieving vets," and that "changes would be made." And it started the very next day.
Wade Redden and Ales Kotalik were benched and the message was crystal clear: "play my kind of hockey, or you won’t be playing hockey here at all." It was indicative of old school John Tortorella hockey, the kind of mentality that earned him that ring that he wears. And you know what? It worked.
Michael Rozsival has responded and is playing his best hockey of the year, plus he is hitting the score sheet with four assists in 7 games. All of a sudden Rozsival is starting to look like the Rozsival of old, shoot cannons from the point (that actually hit the net!) and playing solid defense. Don’t forget that last night Rozsival saved that game by putting the brakes on Eric Staal’s wrap around attempt.
Wade Redden also responded coming back from his benching last night to play his best game as a Ranger. Like DBMaven said in the recap, if he keeps playing like this then we won’t be hearing much complaining coming out of the Ranger faithful.
And all of a sudden the Rangers have won three in a row. They look good they look composed and as I said on my radio show last night this is the time to make some momoentum.
Join me after the jump for more.
But probably the most important difference is the play of the team. If you can, try to remember way back when to the 7-1 streak that the Rangers went on. They back checked as a team, played solid defense, they cycled well, they got pucks to the net and most importantly they had guys parked in front of the net. That was the New York Rangers that I have seen play since Tortorella’s meltdown.
A few players in particular have stood out to me during this "safe is death" three game winning streak. Artem Anisimov has played great, and he has been rewarded with more ice time which has allowed him to begin to blossom. He shields the puck well, takes great shots, has nice vision and just looks awesome out there.
Ryan Callahan continues to play like a man on fire—and although he didn’t get a goal last night—he is making his chances and now is actually burying a few of them. And speaking of home grown talent Brandon Dubinsky also seems to have shaken the rust off since his injury and looks really good. His presence along has allowed John Tortorella to leave the top line intact which has rewarded the Rangers with plenty of goals.
And probably the most important improvement has been the defense as a whole. Suddenly they are all coming back to protect Henrik Lundqvist, they are keeping the crease and the slot clean of opposing players and they are taking the body whenever they can. Add that to a suddenly back on form Henrik Lundqvist and all of a sudden the Rangers are back in business and are out there looking for blood; which is what we want from them.
Overall Tortorella has made some changes too. He has gone from the docile coach who seemed afraid to speak his mind to the volcano-like coach who seems poised to erupt at any second. This was the John Tortorella I signed up for and this is the Tortorella who can fix this team.