During his post practice press conference yesterday John Tortorella hit on two major items that Rangers fans have been concerned about during the team's inconsistent start to the season: Pressure and Toughness.
Torts on the team not living up to the pressures of being a Cup favorite…
"My message to the team is don't panic…There’s a tremendous amount of expectations put on this team, we can’t get involved in that. You also have to handle them correctly when you’re having a little bit of a jam here. I think if you don’t handle the pressure the proper way, I think you get in the way, I think it binds you. I think this is a team that needs something good to happen to it and try to gain some confidence back. You certainly have to play the right way. I don’t think we’ve played the right way consistently enough and if we concentrate on doing that, I think good things will come our way, and we’ll get some traction and gain some confidence. I have full confidence in the team they’re going to handle things the right way.”
…in my 36 years as a New York sports fan, nothing derails a season like high expectations. From the Rangers to the Giants to the Mets. Whenever one of my teams is picked to contend for a championship it's the ultimate death blow. Obviously it's all mental. Not sure if the Rangers feel as though because they're considered a serious threat to win the Cup that teams will just bow down to them so they don't need to work as hard or what. But whatever it is, it needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
…to be honest I'd love to see them own the expectations. Go into the games with a little swagger knowing that they're the better team and no one's going to get in the way on their road to the Cup. A little cockiness will do this team a world of good.
In the wake of the Ryan McDonagh incident, Torts responded to a question regarding the Rangers lack of response in Montreal…
"What are you asking, did they go out and go beat him up or something? Is that what you want to happen? Our team was fine. Our team was fine. You have to remember, we are trying to win a hockey game. I read a couple of comments about how you guys get carried away with that stuff. I have full faith in the toughness of our team and how we're going to handle those type of situations."
…actually Torts that's exactly what I wanted to happen. Yes, I know it was a 1-0 game and an instigator would have negated the power play, but sometimes the message sent means more than the two points. A retaliation on Pacioretty puts the rest of the league on notice. If you take liberties with Rangers players, you will be dealt with accordingly. I can guarantee you the Habs were more than aware of the Rangers lack of a response to the Lucic hit on Nash. A Pacioretty pummeling would have made it less likely that future opponents will feel comfortable taking a run at the Blueshirts.
…and I hate to say this, because I always try to take players and coaches at their word, but I call B.S. on Torts here. He has preached camaraderie and standing up for your fellow teammate since Day 1 with the Rangers, it must be burning him up inside to see this team's lack of guts.
Although, with the way Staal was talking after practice maybe they do have something up their sleeves…
Staal on Patches hit on McD, "you don't forget about that stuff" said he knows they play again this season ( one more time, right?)
— Patrick Kearns (@PatrickKearns) February 25, 2013
The Rangers play the Canadiens again on March 30th.
…i don't know, to me it has to be done immediately after the infraction or it loses its meaning. Especially when the next meeting is over a month away. At the end of March, I'm going to be more worried about this team trying to make the playoffs not waging some vendetta against the Canadiens.
Jesse Spector at the Sporting News has a piece on preventing the "frontier justice" I'm suggesting which includes a quote from yours truly.
Here's the rest of his presser…
A number of injured players including Dan Girardi discussed their ailments…
You can also watch the videos at Blueshirts United.