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.