Kreider

Tortorella on Kreider: “Who knows what happens next year with him”

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While John Tortorella was pleased with Chris Kreider’s NHL debut, he was hesitant to predict the 20-year-old’s future.

“He’s going to go through the process,” the Rangers head coach said of his prized rookie on Monday. “Who knows what happens next year with him.”

It’s pretty clear Torts is tempering expectations, which could be sky high given what Kreider did this postseason: Five goals in 18 games, breaking a 59-year-old NHL record, etc. etc.

Kreider also has plenty to learn, something Tortorella pointed out prior to Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. He admitted letting Kreider’s defensive lapses and errors in judgment slide because he didn’t want to “screw him up.”

“We’re not doing a lot of teaching and a lot of structure with him. It’s just the wrong time,” he told NorthJersey.com. “There’s enough things going through his head where we just want him to play. He’s had some breakdowns away from the puck. Those are things we’ve tried to teach a little bit but not too much.

“This is instinctive. He’s an instinctive player. We’re just trying to let him go.”

Translation: Instinctive for now is fine. But if Kreider’s with us next season, we’ll be teaching him plenty.

That, combined with the potential for a sophomore slump, is probably why Torts said what he did. He also clearly doesn’t want the media running wild with pro-Kreider stories…even though they already have.

“You guys have him playing 22 minute on the first line with some of the articles you write,” he said.

Tortorella praises Rangers: “I love our jam; I love our balls”

John Tortorella
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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.

Tortorella has “tremendous amount of confidence” in Rangers

John Tortorella
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New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella admitted that Game 5 was a “tough one” for his team to lose to the New Jersey Devils. He was fairly positive about his team’s chances of bouncing back from that 5-3 loss and 3-2 series deficit, though.

“We’ve been through it before,” Tortorella said. “It’s a hard one to lose the way we lost tonight, crawling back into it, but we’ll go through our day tomorrow. We’ll regroup. And, again, I have a tremendous amount of confidence in how we’ll react to this.”

Perpetuating that confidence and positivity, Torts was emphatic about the Rangers being able to take some good things out of that tough defeat.

“Sure, you spend some time when you’re struggling in the game and learn from your mistakes,” Tortorella said. “You can also spend some time with some of the good things you’ve done to get ready for our next game.”

So far, the Rangers have shown the ability to roll with playoff punches. They came back from a 3-2 deficit against Ottawa, bounced back from an awful Game 6 against Washington advance thanks to a great Game 7 output and now must win two games in a row against New Jersey.

Tortorella seems positive that this team can grind out yet another series.

Desperate for offense from his forwards, Tortorella turns to prayer

John Tortorella
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For a number of Rangers forwards, this postseason has been a struggle.

— Carl Hagelin’s last goal came on Mar. 15.

— Ruslan Fedotenko has 1G in 18 playoff games. And that 1G came in the 18th game.

— Derek Stepan is scoreless in 12.

— Brian Boyle hasn’t scored since Game 3 of the first round.

— Ryan Callahan’s suffered goalless streaks of five and six games.

— Marian Gaborik’s goals-per-game rate has fallen from .50 (regular season) to .22 (playoffs).

Head coach John Tortorella has tried everything to get his group going offensively. He’s benched players, switched up lines, used positive reinforcement, used negative reinforcement…but nothing’s really worked.

Now, he’s turning to divine intervention.

 Q. In this series you got three goals from Kreider, an empty-netter from Callahan. The  rest of your top six hasn’t been able to get a goal. What can you do to get those guys going?

COACH  TORTORELLA: Pray. I don’t know what else to tell you. We’re going to keep on trying to play, pray, and hopefully something good happens to them.

That New York’s made it this far with so little from its offensive stars is amazing, though we are seeing a similar situation unfold in Phoenix.

Ray Whitney led the Coyotes in regular season scoring with 77 points, but through 15 games sits a distant fifth (with seven points). Radim Vrbata led the ‘Yotes in goalscoring with 35 — 11th-most in the NHL — but has fallen almost completely silent in the playoffs with just two markers thus far.

Of course, the “Phoenix model” isn’t one to emulate…especially with the way the Western Conference final has unfolded.

What they’re saying about the Tortorella-DeBoer shouting match

Torts DeBoer
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Here’s what media folk are saying in the wake of yesterday’s shouting match between John Tortorella and Peter DeBoer — the latest chapter in what’s been a simmering feud between the two bench bosses.

Larry Brooks, New York Post

Maybe this is what John Tortorella meant by gamesmanship, maybe the Rangers’ coach defines that as racing to the front of his team’s bench for an exchange of angry words with Devils coach Pete DeBoer, a man whose presence he clearly cannot abide.

Maybe this latest incident, coming at 6:18 of last night’s third period after Mike Rupp punched Martin Brodeur in the mask in a Game 4 the Blueshirts trailed 3-0 and would lose 4-1, of gamesmanship was required because the Blueshirts essentially had no game.

Steve Politi, Star-Ledger

Devils coach Pete DeBoer practically climbed over the partition separating the two benches to yell at Tortorella, with the Rangers coach returning fire. It’s safe to say these two won’t be vacationing at LBI together this summer.

“This isn’t about John and I,” DeBoer said. “This is about the guys on the ice. So I don’t have anything to say about that.”

He doesn’t have to say a thing. Tortorella provided the Devils all the motivation they needed Monday night, ripping what he perceived as its dirty play when it was his player, Brandon Prust, who was suspended for a vicious elbow in Game 3.

Katie Strang, ESPN New York

It was rare, not because Tortorella is the picture of serenity — he had launched a fiery tirade toward the Devils one day earlier — but because it signified an uncharacteristic lack of restraint from a disciplined Rangers squad that has built its success with its mind-numbing consistency.

The Devils were delighted.

“That’s what we’re trying to hopefully see out of them,” said defenseman Bryce Salvador, who finished with a goal and an assist, “is a lack of composure.”

Pat Leonard, NY Daily News

Tortorella and DeBoer came only a few feet away from literally being at each other’s throats, storming to the edge of their respective benches and cursing across the working space of NBC on-ice analyst Pierre McGuire after Rupp jabbed Brodeur inside his crease following a whistle with 13:42 remaining.

“Oh it was nothin,’” McGuire joked after the game. “I’ve seen worse.”

Related:

No league discipline for Devils-Rangers Game 4 shenanigans

Tortorella: Rangers need “to have a short-term memory”

DeBoer, Tortorella deflect questions about yelling match