When the Washington Capitals bounced the New York Rangers from the 2011 playoffs, John Tortorella was refreshingly honest, admitting that his team didn’t quite have the talent to do it. With Brad Richards in tow, that explanation wouldn’t fly. While Torts admitted that winning a couple rounds isn’t good enough, he’s still proud of his team.
“I just — I love our jam. I love our balls,” Tortorella said. “I really like what we have here. I don’t think it will be the same; there are always changes. But what they have — what our group has developed in their identity, their mindset, I think showed tonight. Again, we didn’t get it done, but I just like the way they handled themselves … we got out swagger back.”
That swagger probably explains why Torts resolutely stood up for his team in various elimination situations and steadfastly denied the idea that the Rangers were drained as the Eastern Conference finals wore on.
Torts is likely right that there might some changes, especially since Rangers GM Glen Sather is known for loving splashy off-season moves. (Did someone just play Rick Nash’s music?)
Yet despite one potentially significant addition – or maybe two? – the general “mindset” of shot-blocking and defensive-minded play will stay. The good news, then, is that Tortorella is happy with the group he has.
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.
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.