Rangers Notebook: Tortorella on ‘grinding away’
Yes, the Rangers finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference last season. Yes, they advanced all the way to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final. Yes, they added a premier power forward in Rick Nash. Yes, there are expectations that the Rangers will be playing hockey in June.
And all that means absolutely nothing to head coach John Tortorella — not after watching two games in which his team did not play the aggressive style he believes it has to play in order to be successful.
“We don’t win many games 5-2 or 6-3,” Tortorella said before Wednesday night’s nationally televised match against Original Six brethren Boston. “We have to grind away. And we certainly haven’t gotten to that state of mind in getting ready to play that way.”
The aspect of Sunday’s loss which troubled Tortorella the most was the lack of fight from the Rangers following Pittsburgh’s second goal Sunday night. The coach excoriated Chris Kreider, Stu Bickel and Michael Del Zotto specifically for what transpired on the play.
“We stopped playing after they scored the second goal,” Tortorella said. “We simply did not have any resiliency at all after they came back and scored that second goal. Why? I don’t know. Pittsburgh surged on us a number of times in the game because they had the puck.
“We simply did not do enough.”
One of the aspects of the Nash acquisition that many anticipated was the possibility of Tortorella creating a top line of Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.
Tortorella played coy when asked if he was leaning that way.
“When those guys are playing really well, yeah, put ‘em all together,” Tortorella said. “You’re really front-loading your lineup. But we’ll see.”
» Arron Asham missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Bickel replaced Asham at forward, while Steve Eminger dressed and played on defense. Tortorella said the injury occurred during the Sunday’s 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh.
» The Rangers are in Philadelphia Thursday for the first of six games against the Flyers. Philadelphia will not have center Brayden Schenn, who was suspended for one game yesterday by the NHL for charging New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov in the second period of the Flyers’ 3-0 loss Tuesday night.
» St. Louis activated defenseman Wade Redden, and it is expected he will play for the Blues tonight. The Rangers amnestied Redden on Jan. 17. He had agreed to a six-year, $39 million deal with the franchise in July 2008, but had spent the last two seasons banished to AHL Connecticut.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.