Monthly Archives: May 2013

More On Torts

So the knives are out among the NY press corps and they aren’t holding back a thing. You have to love the irony of Lupica’s first sentence. “This isn’t about the way Tortorella occasionally treated reporters just trying to do their jobs.” Do you think he typed that with a straight face? It’s worth noting that Larry Brooks, the author of the second column I linked to, has had a pretty stormy relationship with Torts. You can see him and Torts go at it in this “Top 10 Tortorella Moments” video. Brooks is involved in #5 and #1. So, I don’t really know how much of this is “real” reporting and how much of this is dancing on the grave. I get why the press didn’t like Torts, I wouldn’t have liked him much if I had to deal with him either.

The thing that worries me is if the stories are true then Glen Sather fired Torts to make his players happy. That’s a slippery slope to go down. Getting rid of Torts will make them happy right now, but will they stay happy? And what happens if they don’t like the next coach? Anarchy in the lockeroom is never a good thing.

Torts Takes The Fall

The Rangers have fired coach John Tortorella. Its not what I would call a shock, but it is a bold move. The question is, why did they suddenly decide to do this four days after the season ended?

Some will say its because of Henrik Lundqvist’s comments on Monday about talking to his agent before signing an extension with the Rangers. There is certainly a case to be made for the Rangers firing him because of his personality.

But I suspect it had to do with the Brad Richards situation. Richards was benched for the last two games of the playoffs. The Rangers could buy him out of his contract after this season or next season and it wouldn’t count against the salary cap. But, to do so this season means the Rangers take a $24 million hit. So I think Sathers’ boss, Jim Dolan, told him to make Richards happy this season and fire the coach. I only think that because the timing is so strange. The season ended Saturday. The players and coaches met the media on Monday. It’s weird that he was suddenly fired on Wednesday.

None of the above means that I disagree with the move. Tortorella was a good coach, but he had two serious flaws that I think prevented this team from achieving all it could.

First, he demanded a certain style of play without any regard to the personnel he had to coach. That’s a pretty extreme position to take and I just don’t think it is a long-term recipe for success. Look at Torts’ run in Tampa. He won the cup and was fired three seasons later.

Second, and probably the most important, he did nothing to develop the younger players. What happened to Chris Kreider this year? J.T. Miller made a splash, but quickly got sent back to the minors. Torts demanded his way of play and he glued players to the bench when they didn’t follow through. It’s very hard to develop into a good player when you have to worry about getting benched after every shift.

So, I don’t regret the firing of Torts, but I think it is interesting how Glen Sather will get another chance to pick another coach. It’s worth noting that if the Rangers buyout Richards’ deal it will simply be another high-profile signing by Sather that blew up. Wade Redden, Pavel Bure, Scott Gomez, Chris Drury…how many more chances does Sather get before his time runs out as well?

Show Some Pride

Here’s a stat from last night’s Rangers killer. The Rangers had not lost a game in regulation where they led after two periods since February 4th, 2010. It was 99-straight games since it had last happened. They picked a really lousy time for that streak to end.

Could the Rangers pull off the unthinkable? Well there are two things that make me think it could be possible. The first is that Henrik was Henrik last night. The defense in front of him was uncharacteristically terrible. If that becomes better the Rangers certainly have a very good shot to win any game. The second thing is this. These Bruins are also one of the very few teams in  history to have ever lost a series in which they led 3-0. They did it in 2010 when they blew a 3-0 lead in Game 7 after losing Games 4, 5 and 6. Now the chances of the Rangers getting anywhere near a Game 7 are slim. But, if the Rangers win Game 4 and then win Game 5 in Boston, the echoes of that 2010 collapse will be an added distraction for the Bruins to face over the final 2 games.

But realistic Rangers’ fans will settle for less at this point. We would like to see the Rangers show some grit and go out and win on Thursday. Don’t get swept on your home ice. It’s a far cry from where we were a week ago, but a realistic one.

 

It’s Over…Unless….

The old adage is that a playoff series doesn’t really begin until the road team wins a game. The Rangers have to hope that their playoff series with Boston won’t begin until Saturday. But here’s the thing, the Rangers aren’t going to win a game unless Henrik Lundqvist returns to being Henrik Lundqvist.

There are multiple reasons why the Rangers are in a 2-0 hole, but the biggest one is that they have surrendered eight goals in two games. The defense deserves a lot of the blame, 48 shots allowed in Game 1 is pathetic, but Lundqvist wasn’t even average in Game 2. Unless he regains his form, the Rangers are doomed. This is not a team built to win shootouts. They can win as long as their opponents don’t score more than 2 goals a game. Anything more than that and they are in big trouble.

So what will happen tomorrow night? The Garden crowd will be loud and obnoxious and the Rangers should come out energized. But they will need to take an early lead or the energy will dissipate quickly. If that happens, I suspect the Rangers will be eliminated in a sweep.

 

Failed Season

There were three ways the Knicks’ season could have ended successfully.

1- Win the NBA Championship

2- Lose in the NBA Finals

3- Lose to the Heat in the playoffs.

#1 is obvious. With only two trips to the finals in 39 years, #2 would definitely have been a success. And while some Knicks’ fans don’t want to admit it, the Heat are a much, much better team so losing to them doesn’t make the season a failure.

So, I count yesterday’s elimination in the second round to the Pacers as a failure. This team was built to win now and they didn’t do it.

Now the Knicks have to figure out how to improve a team that couldn’t get past the second round. Bringing Smith back is a must, but creating more depth is going to be a hard problem to crack. They have a late first round draft pick, but they are over the cap so the rest won’t be very easy.

An Ancient Rivalry Resumes

If you had to rank the New York-Boston rivalries by intensity, I think they would look like this:

1-Yankees-Red Sox

2-Celtics-Knicks

3-Jets-Patriots (Giants-Patriots aren’t at this level yet.) 

4- Rangers-Bruins

I would say there is a big gap from 1 to 2 and a bigger gap from 3 to 4. The Rangers vs.Bruins just isn’t a big thing. But, that wasn’t always the case. 

Here’s a great story about the Rangers-Bruins rivalry from back in the 70’s. I don’t remember any of this, but the stories are pretty good. 

Here’s a more famous incident from the past 40 years. Two things about that scene. First, only three Bruins got suspended and the longest suspension was for 8 days.What a different world that was. Second, its the reason the glass is much, much higher in arenas now. 

As for the present, the Rangers’ chances all come down to Lundqvist. Nobody is beating the guy who showed up in Games 3-7 of the Capitals series. I am going with the Rangers in six. 

What A Joke

So Sunday is Mothers’ Day, but if you are a hockey fan, I hope you have told Mom to wait to make plans until you can find out when your favorite hockey team is playing. We know the Rangers will be playing on Sunday, but we don’t know when they are playing. Why is that? Because of NBC and the NHL of course.

I get it, there is uncertainty over the games to be played on Sunday. Boston, Anaheim and Pittsburgh could close out their series tonight and therefore not need a game on Sunday. They could all lose and then we would have four games to watch on Sunday. But here’s the thing, the Rangers and Capitals are definitely going to play on Sunday and they are scheduled to play a Game 7 on Monday. So, to prepare for that eventuality shouldn’t the league mandate that the Rangers and Capitals play early in the day Sunday? I know it is not a long trip between Washington and New York, but having them play Sunday evening would be grossly unfair.

It’s just another example of how TV is the king and the convenience of the fans isn’t even a concern. The only way they will ever learn if is you stop paying for the tickets or turn off the TV.

Sigh

The Knicks have made things a lot harder on themselves than they had to. Tonight Carmelo and J.R. Smith tried to do way too much and the defense didn’t try at all.

What happens next is going to be interesting. Boston will certainly be fired up for Game 6 on Friday.  That emotion boosted them to a huge lead on Sunday. But the Knicks, overcame that emotion and had their chances at the end of that game. There was some serious yapping at the end of this game. It looked to me like one of the Celtic bench players said some bad words toward Carmelo and then Raymond Felton went after him. I don’t think it will merit any discipline, but you can bet the refs will be quick to the whistle on Friday. As a basketball fan, I am excited to see what should be a great game. As a Knicks fan, I wish I had the night off.