Throughout the NHL lockout and so far in this shortened season, the New York Rangers have been touted as a favorite to go deep in the playoffs and possibly win a Stanley Cup. So what is wrong with the team that has begun 8-7-2 and is mired in a three game winless streak? According to head coach John Tortorella, the Rangers do not necessarily need to push the panic button just yet.
“You have to handle (high expectations) correctly when you’re having a little bit of a jam here,” Tortorella said. “If you don’t handle the pressure the proper way, I think you get in the way. It binds you. I think this is a team that needs something good to happen to it to try to gain some confidence.”
Today, the Rangers were sent to the locker room early when Torts did not like what he was seeing in practice. Love him or hate him, the one thing that Tortorella always has is the pulse of his team. The Rangers are in a slump that none of us could have projected with the talent they have. But injuries have mounted and they have missed two players sorely: Rick Nash and Darroll Powe.
Nash, who some feel is suffering from a concussion but has yet to be confirmed, was beginning to mesh well with the top line. Powe, also suffering from concussion symptoms, is a special teams warrior who has been sorely missed when the Rangers are a man down. Powe at least was on the ice for today’s practice and is expected to be on the ice for tomorrow’s games against the Winnipeg Jets.
While watching the Rangers games, it is evident that they move the puck well and have been very physical down low. Their main downfall has been finishing in the zone. Their shots just are not finding the back of the net. Maybe Tortorella is right, and it is just a matter of a few shots falling in order to gain their confidence back.
Whatever it is, the Rangers need to fix the problem sooner rather than later as the season is coming to a close quick. The Rangers better not only hear the message that Tortorella has sent, but react to it with a win against the Jets tomorrow in order to creep back into the playoff race.