Sometimes losses are good for a team. Sometimes they wake the players up, remind them that their egos are too big, or even show them some of the things that they are doing right. The Rangers have an opportunity to do that after last night's loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Except the Rangers aren't going to be able to do it on their own, John Tortorella is gonna have to.
When he was named head coach of the New York Rangers, many fans, myself included, were ecstatic about two main factors; his offensive system and his ability (and willingness) to hold players accountable for their actions. Ranger fans were excited to finally see guys like Wade Redden, Michal Rozsival, Chris Drury, and any other underachieving veteran you can think of riding pine for games at a time. For whatever reason, this transition never took root.
Instead we got a new "hybrid" Tortorella. Yes, we still got the scuffles with reporters, public, profanity laced, on air explosions, and embarrassing incidents with opposing teams fans. We still see the eruptions of fury on the bench, the "heavy hand" with ice time for the first line, and the consistent (sometimes to a fault) use of Henrik Lundqvist.
We have also seen player benching, except not who you would expect. Yes, Redden and Ales Kotalik were benched for a few games each, but aside from them, the veterans seemed to get a free pass. Instead Enver Lisin, Brandon Dubinsky, Chris Higgins, Michael Del Zotto and even Marian Gaborik have seen ice time taken away. So why not Redden, Roszival, or Drury (no, his two shift 4th line appearance doesn't count).
Join me after the jump for more.
I don't care that Redden played a pretty good game last night, I don't care that he had an assist and was a plus one on the night. His penalty was a penalty. I don't care if you think it was a soft call, or a bad call, or whatever; his stick shouldn't have been on Evgeny Malkin's hands like that, especially in overtime. Redden is a veteran, he knows the situation he is in, he took a stupid penalty, and the Rangers lost the game because of it.
I don't care that they were out-played all game, I don't care that the game shouldn't have gotten to overtime. The game did get to overtime, and Redden needed to know the situation he was in. Now is the game Redden's fault? Obviously not entirely, but his penalty was one of the key factors to losing a point last night, that has to be punished, Redden must be held accountable.
If Tortorella punished Redden after yesterday's blunder, it would send an great message to this team. You don't get lazy, you don't take stupid penalties, and you don't jeopardize a much needed win. The Rangers can't afford to lose games like the one they lost last night, especially at this stage in the season.
This needs to be a jumping point. Tortorella needs to establish that incidents like the one Redden committed last night, can't happen without consequence. Lisin is no longer on the team, so he can no longer be the only player Tortorella punished, it has to extend to everyone else. I would have written this article no matter who committed that penalty, even if it was Gaborik, from this point forward laziness can not be an problem on this team.
This idea might be unconventional, this idea might draw me some bad "press," but I can handle it. The Rangers need to understand the importance of these games. And veteran guys like Redden need to know what they can't do on the ice. Redden needs to be smarter there, but most importantly every player needs to be smarter in those situations; and making an example out of Redden (only because he was the once who took this particular penalty) will send a positive message to this team.