With Rangers struggling, Tortorella is being Tortorella


New York Rangers coach John Tortorella isn’t in the greatest of moods these days. Which is weird, because he’s normally such a ray of sunshine.

The Rangers are in Vancouver tonight looking for their first win of the 2011-12 campaign. After starting the season with two losses – one in overtime, one in a shootout – over in Europe, Tortorella’s squad flew back to the United States and promptly dropped a decision to the Islanders.

A trip across the continent to Vancouver probably wasn’t what the Rangers needed at the moment, but Torts isn’t willing to use all the travel as an excuse.

Nor is he willing to be nice to reporters who ask about it.

“Don’t even go to the travel, if you ask me a question about the travel I’ll just up and walk away here – it has nothing to do with travel,” Tortorella told the assembled media yesterday in Vancouver. “You’re asking me about travel and you’re going to screw some guys who have a question. Any other questions?”

The next question from reporters probably wasn’t, “Can I have a hug?”

Tortorella wasn’t any nicer to his players yesterday. The Daily News reports he made them do push-ups when defenseman Jeff Woywitka tripped a teammate during practice. (Penalties have been a problem for the Rangers.)


Of note, New York hasn’t won in Vancouver since Oct. 11, 1997.

What was life like back then? Courtesy Dave Lozo of “the cost of a gallon of gas was about $1.25. It varies from place to place, but the average cost for a gallon of gas today is about $3.60.”

In conclusion, gas is too expensive. They should make it cheaper.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
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Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.