Thursday, April 16, 2009

How About The Coach?

Sometimes I really got to wonder about people mainly Ranger fans and the media covering the team. It seems that nobody is giving John Tortorella the credit for the coaching job he did in game one because his work is the primary reason why the Rangers were able to steal this win

Tortorella wants the Ranger world to believe that in the playoffs it is about the players not the coach but that is far from the truth. Tortorella outcoached Capital's coach Bruce Boudreau in Game 1 and most of what Torts did not show up unless you went back and looked at the tape of the game.

As much as Tom Renney was someone I admired for his work with the Rangers there was one area which was always a weakness for Renney. He could never get the Rangers to make those in-game adjustments that a team needs to make to win games that you are not supposed to win.

Tortorella adapted, he kept calm and more importantly he kept the Rangers from those late game panics that we have witnessed all season long. Torts despite his protests was the difference maker as his moves were very visible but also not at all visible until the damage was done.

The first adjustment is the one that everyone saw which was swapping out Rosy and Redden for a struggling Staal and Girardi. That one everyone saw and whether you like Redden and Rosy or not; this was the right move and helped to right a very shaky Ranger confidence.

The second adjustment is one that only was noticed until after Brandon Dubinsky scored what proved to be the game winning goal. The Capitals like to use just one power play unit and play them for the entire 2 minutes.

It was working and led to 2 power play goals for the Caps but as the game was going on, the Rangers started to attack back using the Cap's own tactic against them. The Rangers started to push the puck up ice trying to take advantage of the Caps being tired themselves.

It paid off on the Dubinsky goal as soon as Naslund left the penalty box he headed up ice not giving the Caps a chance to get off the ice themselves. Dubinsky joined the rush, got the puck and Ranger fans know the rest.

The key there is that if the Rangers can continue to force that kind of play then Bruce Boudreau is going to have to consider changing his own tactics and go with shorter power play shifts or change up some of the players. In either case if you can get Alex Ovechkin of the ice then you are getting the better of the deal.

Another move that Tortorella had the Rangers doing was clearing the middle of the offensive zone to give Henrik vision to the shots that he was facing. In Ranger losses other teams would attack right down the middle with the 3rd or 4th man trailing able come in free and were able to fire untouched on Henrik.

The Ranger forwards were sticking to their coverages and not allowing that trail player to escape. It helped to protect Henrik and if you can give Henrik clear vision to the shots he is facing then it will be very hard to beat him.

But there was more than just that, it was Tortorella who remained calm even when the calls were very much one sided as was the elbow that Fredrik Sjostrom took was never called. The Rangers kept their composure and remained focused to their gameplan.

Forget the difference in shots on goal, forget that the Rangers lost a 2 goal lead and forget that Caps were controling the play. What the Caps were not able to do was get the Rangers to fall apart and blow game 1.

Forget that the Rangers were playing without their Captain Chris Drury who is the Rangers most proven playoff scorer, the Rangers got goals from 4 different players. Do I need to remind people that to win in the playoffs you got to get contributions from everyone and that the Rangers did.

Instead realize instead of losing Game 1 that Tortorella has the Rangers feeling pretty good about themselves as now Game 2 is now a no lose situation for the Rangers. Game 2 is now about the Caps wondering about themselves, about how they outplayed the Rangers and still lost.

Do not let Tortorella fool you with his "this is about the players not the coaches" nonsense as the biggest edge the Rangers do have is behind the bench. The Rangers have not one coach who won a Cup ring but two in Tortorella AND Schoenfeld.

Yes the Rangers have a lot of work to do if they want to win the series as they got to stay out of the penalty box, they have to do a much better job on faceoffs (having Drury back will help) but they already have one victory that even losing game 2 will not stop.

Tortorella has the Caps second guessing themselves, they wonder about their goalie and they are wondering how they can dominate the Rangers but still lose.

That in my eyes makes him the first star for now and for the Rangers to win this series, Tortorella needs to remain that star.

(Tortorella courtesy of David Perimutter and the Blueshirt Bulletin)

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