Monday, February 04, 2013

The early season tribulations of John Tortorella

With a galaxy of star names to call on, one might be inclined to think that Rangers' head coach John Tortorella just walks into the office each morning and wonders where would be a nice place to put the variety of trophies that surely must be destined for Broadway.

But, in a season barely underway and already heading towards a playoff drive, the best plans, and even the best line combinations don't always work out as one might hope we guess.

Such is the state of the Ranger scoring two weeks into the truncated season (24th in Goals For)  that John Tortorella is already looking to shake up the line up, hoping to remove some of the lethargy from a team that coming out of the gate in a normal season, probably would have been running away to hide from the rest of the eastern conference.

However, while being only eight games in and just five points out of first is not a time to panic, their placement in the standings is it seems. giving Rangers fans a bit of a queasy feeling.

From Manhattan and the Bronx, over to Staten Island and across the bridge to Brooklyn and parts of Queens, there are rumblings of concern that the Rangers currently in ninth place are barely just holding off the Jets and Sabres below them.

As history has shown, Tortorella isn't shy when it comes to mixing his lines, looking to spark a player here or express displeasure with a player's performance there. Something that can take place in relative anonymity in the less interested of locations for NHL franchises, where a player is a player is a player is a player.

But in New York, where the payroll befits the largest market in the league, and attention to the Rangers is almost, if not equal to the Canadian cities (Financial commentator Larry Kudlow took time out from his WABC Saturday morning financial show to wonder aloud as to what's up with the Blueshirts) even ruminating on possibly having to move around the big guys makes for more than few casual observations.

Over the last few days the coach has weighed in with some thoughts on line up challenges and all of that and while he seemingly wants to keep  Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik (they ever think of calling it the G N' R line? a little Paradise City, or Welcome to the Jungle when they step on the ice...) as the premiere line combo in Blue, it would seem that if the rest of the lineup doesn't kick it up a gear or two, changes may soon have to be made.

NY Post-- Tortorella tweaking Rangers' line combos
NY Times-- Rangers' Kreider Faces Questions About Development
NY Daily News-- With Ryan Callahan out, NY Rangers finding consistency on second line ...

There are of course other issues in New York than just the line up on the ice, injuries have made the lineup a work in progress through the first few weeks of the season.

Also of concern to the coach (and the fans) is the ongoing problem of a tendency to take too many penalties, usually when momentum is there for a shift, and usually the result is a shift for the opposing team.

That's a case of focus and something that a coach has to reinforce, over and over again. Usually that's the role of a training camp and a pre-season, but in a year where just getting the game back on the ice was the goal, all of that has been left behind.

It's learn as you go time for the NHL and with it the need to adapt quickly to the obstacles that pop up as you head for the playoffs.

Saturday night the Rangers were on message.

NY Post-- Rangers' attention to detail pays off
NY Post-- Star's key goal fuels Rangers
NY Daily News-- Rangers Find balance and energy in 3-2 win over Lightning

Tuesday  in Jersey? Well who knows what the future holds.

In the case of the Rangers, keeping their head in the game and getting the supporting cast to ratchet it up is the required task ahead for Tortorella.

So far 2013 is proving to be a rather inconsistent season for the Rangers , a day to day thing, the problem is in a season as short as this 2013 campaign, you quickly find that the days to tinker with lineups and bring some focus to the game begin to dwindle.

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