After his team's 2-1 loss in a shootout last night in TO, new Rangers coach John Tortorella immediately said the following:
"I don't want to jump to conclusions, but I'm a little concerned about the conditioning of the club. I thought we looked tired in the third period. We're going to try and play an attacking style. We need to be in shape."
He added "I wouldn't say the whole team - I have some concerns about a few guys."
I repeat, hmm.
I really wonder who he is talking about.
On Hockey This Morning, Denis Potvin said that he thinks it was less of a reality and more of a way to call attention to the team on a whole so that he could a) get more out of them or b) push them harder in practice. Making it justifiable, so to speak.
Look I'm not Potvin, and I didn't play the game. But I find this note almost more interesting than the game itself. Maybe my thought process is without necessity, but I am thinking about it nonetheless.
There are a few guys that I've said have appeared out of shape at times or all year. Nigel Dawes came to camp overweight and slow. He improved a bit, but still has questionable games. Aaron Voros, even during his good games (see October for reference), labored during intermission interviews, which occur sometimes a full 3-4 minutes after the period has ended. It got to the point where Renney - hesitantly you can tell, had to bench him for a few games and put Prucha in because Voros was laboring to get to the bench at the end of a shift.
Those are only two examples, but that cannot and should not happen in professional sports.
It's even worse when you have guys on your team that are in exceptional shape and yet, players that aren't even in decent shape, get to play instead.
Imagine if Mike Richter came to camp out of shape but they kept tossing him back out in to the nets just because they liked him better. Perhaps a bad example but one I'm using because it was always noted Mike Richter was one of the most conditioned people on the entire team, not just among goalies.
I guess what I'm dancing around here is that I find my interest slightly peeked that on a night where the coach made that statement after the game that a guy like Petr Prucha got what I can only assume to be season high ice time with 15:45. Season high.
He played more minutes in the third than he has all year, that's for sure. He seemed to be out there A LOT.
Now, is that mere coincidence, or is that the coach realizing who was conditioned and who wasn't. Because, if you ask me, after I'd realized who was who, I'd use who I knew could get the job done.
Remember, this guy has no preconceived notions. He has no favorites.
Just something to mull over today and leading into tonight and the next few games. Think what you will. But I find it very interesting indeed.
Other Game Thoughts. . .
I found the game to be more upbeat than any Rangers game I've seen in months. That was not a surprise. And for those of us expecting the team to automatically go off auto-pilot and score a ton, I'm not sure it works that way.
Key difference? They were shooting. Remember back to the first two games in Prague where the Rangers kept getting around 40 shots on goal and still only scoring 2. Well the Rangers appeared to be shooting a lot more last night. Even if it was only 32 shots, it looked notably different. The powerplay, on at least two of the four, looked like it had a heck of a lot more movement. But then a senior citizens game of musical chairs at the old folks home would have had more movement than the powerplay the Rangers churned out for much of the last two years.
And is it just me or does Hank look a lot more comfortable making saves in "real time?" I'm not sure how to even explain it but when he had to make some good saves, last night, he did. And he looked more at ease than he had been. Maybe my imagination.
I just kept noticing things last night that I hadn't seen in a while.
Markus Naslund getting into a fight. - That was different.
Wade Redden scoring a goal. - That was different.
Petr Prucha on the powerplay. - That was different.
The man behind the bench actually smiling once or twice. - That was VERY different.
Who are these people???
All kidding aside, I think it was, if nothing else, a steady step in a more entertaining direction. Now if only they could learn to pot a few goals, we'd be heading in a more entertaining AND more effective direction.
But one game cannot make a world of difference.
Hopefully it's the realizations taken out of the game that can.
Where Are They Now. . . ?
Team Player Action Note
Pittsburgh Petr Sykora Goal *GWG and only of game