The volcanic coach finally erupted.
“The thing that is unacceptable about tonight’s game, and we’re trying to stay positive around here and work our way through it, but when we play like s—t like that for 20 minutes, in a game like this, in a back-to-back situation, it’s unacceptable,” seethed John Tortorella after the Rangers’ sleepwalked their way to a 2-1 loss to the Islanders last night at the Garden. Both teams will meet tonight at the Coliseum, and expect changes to be made to the Rangers lineup.
“It’s simply unacceptable. There has to be something done. And we’ll see along the way here, before (tonight’s) game and see what we go with,” said Tortorella, who grew angrier with every syllable. “It’s just simply unacceptable how we started that game. I wish I could give you a f—in’ explanation about it. I can’t.”
The players and Tortorella have talked about for weeks how hard this group works but were unlucky; as if the league’s successful teams get by because of the crest on their sweaters. It’s a loser’s lament.
With their suburban rivals in the house, the timing was ripe for the Rangers’ worst period of the season. The Rangers were unable to gain the offensive zone for the most part, were unable to keep the Islanders from taking residency in their zone, and were outshot 10-3 in the first. Overall, the Rangers were outshot 28-26. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 26 shots. Dwayne Roloson turned away 25 shot.
“We didn’t come out hard enough,” mea culpa’d captain Chris Drury. “It’s certainly not what we were shooting for. Something we talked about coming into it was making sure we have a good start and for whatever reason, we we’re all pretty flat.”
So it was not shocking that the Islanders (13-14-7) had a 1-0 lead at the end of the first twenty minutes. What was stunning was the way they scored. With 5:31 remaining in the period when defenseman Jack Hillen roamed unmolested behind Lundqvist’s cage before his pass deflected off of Jon Sim’s skate and popped up over Lundqvist’s pads and into the net. The goal was Sim’s third of the season.
“It’s horses—t coverage around the corners, just brings it around the net. It’s a fluky goal but we don’t get them,” analyzed Tortorella.
There was an intense “Fire Sather!” chant from 18,200 performance evaluators as the period concluded, and a clearly angry assistant coach Mike Sullivan told a MSG Network reporter “It’s not about skill, it’s about will.”
The Rangers were better in the second—really, it would have been impossible to have played worse. They had snarl and got into the Islanders’ faces after whistles. By the period’s end, the Rangers had marginally outshot the Islanders 12-10.
Blake Comeau ended any fleeting hope that the Rangers could win the game after potting his second of the season with 3:10 remaining. All that was left was the see if the Rangers could end their even strength goalless streak. Dating back to last Wednesday’s 2-1 loss in Chicago, the Rangers had gone an astounding 172:50 without a five-on-five goal. Enver Lisin’s tally with 55 seconds left ended the drought at 231:55.
The Rangers (14-16-3) have lost five in a row, and eight of ten. What can be done to salvage the season?
According to Tortorella, it’s simple: “Play f—in’ hard.”
Added Drury: “A little bit of everything. The good thing is we do play them (tonight). We don’t have to wait around here for day to thinking about it or talk about it.”
The Rangers called up defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti from AHL Hartford early yesterday.
New Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson was at the game.