All Encompassing Tortorella..ella..ella..eh..eh...and Glen Cigar Thread Part III
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04-15-2013, 06:55 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: New York
Originally Posted by
Let's look at those first line minutes this year, because I think its clear to all of us that something changed from last year to this year. For the first 30 games of the season he was:
A) Playing out of position
on a line with:
B) A center who despite having a reputation as a world class playmaker was playing like absolute dog****
C) A right wing who, talented as he may be, ALMOST NEVER PASSES THE PUCK
Gaborik is a floater with a wicked shot - may as well call a spade a spade - he's not a Rick Nash type of player who is going to single handedly change a game - he needs his line mates to feed him in order to be successful. So, playing out of position, with those line mates for the majority of his tenure with the Rangers this season, how could he possibly be as productive as he was in seasons past?
Despite that, he was given **** by Torts and benched well before Richards - despite the fact that as bad as he was playing, he was still playing WAY better than Richards, and was not set up to be successful this season (given his strengths and weaknesses).
Oh, and then he was demoted to the third line, as if that was supposed to make him magically stop playing the same way he has been playing since he got drafted and become Ryan Callahan with a better shot.
In my opinion, what changed from last year to this year was that Gaborik stopped playing like he wanted to win. Playing his off wing could be part of it I suppose, but I don't see why that would stop him from using the speed he's depended on his entire career, or why that would take the mustard off his shot, or cause him to look absolutely lost so often.
I don't see how his linemates can possibly be an issue. He's had worse linemates in the past - far worse. He started on a line with Richards and Nash. Granted, Richards wasn't/isn't playing well, but playing Gaborik's game on the other side of Nash should have been relatively easy. Nash attracts attention, Gaborik uses his speed and sense of where the holes in the defense are to sneak in, snap a quick shot and score. Saying that Nash almost never passes the puck is head scratcher for me. He passes quite often, and toward the beginning of the season he was over-passing IMO.
Gabby was benched/demoted before Richards because the team had a tremendous hole at 3C with Richards while the RW was stacked with Nash and Callahan, and for a while Hagelin was on fire playing with Nash - ironically, playing the exact game that Gaborik should have been playing despite having a far less impressive skillset. Also, he was never asked to be a grinder. He was asked to score goals and he didn't.
This is my point about Torts not being a creative problem solver. He seems to be unwilling to change tactics at all regardless of what players happen to be on the ice at any given moment. Opposing players are 4 across the blue line? Dump (or stretch pass tip in) and grind along the boards! Oh, that's not working? Do it more! Yay! We finally have puck possession in the O zone! What do you mean you 're out of gas?
Collapse into the D zone and give the opposing D free reign of 1/3 of their O zone! Oh, that's not working? We've been trapped in our own zone for the last 2 minutes? Collapse more, block shots, and let Hank bail you out! You took a penalty because you're out of gas? You're benched!
I can't imagine why we were gassed against the Devils in the ECF's last year...
Torts' tactics have been discussed to death. I still don't think it's as direct as him telling the players to dump, for example, no matter what and them doing it over and over and over. That doesn't seem realistic at all. Dumping it in is a plan B when the play isn't there, or maybe a go-to plan if you have a line that is really built for it, like Hagelin, Stepan and Callahan were. The team looked like garbage until very recently. I don't doubt for a second that they were dumping regularly because the opposing team was outplaying them and disrupting the plays they wanted to make.
On D, you can complain all you want, the team has success in their zone by the numbers. You play to win, not to please internet critics.
Take Kreider as another example. Last year in the playoffs, he had some abysmal games and a couple of really good games under the directive of (at least as far as I have read) "Just go out and play". So, what happened this year? Kreider has been terrible all year when with the big club. Did his play really regress that much? Or was he terrified of "just playing", making a mistake and riding pine all night?
So, instead of having a kid (who admittedly will make a ton of rookie mistakes) with a wicked shot and fast wheels on the PP, we have Brian Boyle (I have nothing against the guy and think he's very effective when utilized properly - but I don't think he should be on the PP - a big body in front of the net is only effective if said body can't be moved i.e. Zdeno Chara).
I don't think it's an issue of regression with Kreider. He came in to the NHL immediately after winning a championship, on a team that was very tightly knit, extremely confident and on a roll, and he did pretty well. If he's scared of playing because of a coach that so many other young players have come into their own under, that's a huge problem for Kreider. I don't think that's the issue though. He's a rookie, and what he's going through isn't unusual for rookies. People put absurd expectations on him, and when he fell short they blamed the same person that ends up being the scapegoat for any player that fans don't want to get on.
Why is Girardi getting PP minutes over Stralman, McDonagh and Moore?
Why is Boyle getting minutes he can't possibly deliver on given his skill set?
I could be wrong, but I'm fairly certain that both Girardi and Boyle were on the PPs that looked incredible right when the new players came in. People have been complaining, rightfully, about the PP all year. A group comes in and has success, the coach keeps that group together, and now people are complaining that this or that player doesn't meet their ideal PP player standards. You can't have everything all the time. I'd rather have a working PP - I don't care who's on it if it works.
Because Totorella is RIGID. He has no creative solutions. There is no "Gaborik is a specialist. He does one thing well. Scores goals. That's it. How can I use that to the team's advantage?" Everything is "This is my decision. If it's not working, it's because you're not doing it right/with enough jam/heart/etc."
To say Torts didn't realize how to utilize Gabby is silly to me. How did Gaborik score 40 twice? Luck? Or the classic cop-out for a real reason, "he did it in spite of Torts?" The past few years it sure looked like Torts knew that Gabby was a goal scorer and put him in a place to succeed. If you honestly watched Gabby this season and thought that he was showing the proper amount of hustle, we have very different standards for how hard players should go. If you don't want to play like you give a damn, you better put up the points to justify being an exception to the team rule. If you're not holding yourself to the standards the rest of the team is and you're not putting up points, you're useless, like Gabby was for the end of his time here.
Edit: As for Zucc not being a Torts guy, I wholeheartedly disagree. A guy who is 5'6" and plays like he's 6'5", face mushing Phaneuf? He is the definition of a Torts guy. Stepan as well. Nash gets a pass because of his talent, which leaves only Brassard... Call me delusional, but this trade, to me, reeks of Torts. I think that we, as fans, see the centerpiece of this trade (if there can be a centerpiece) as Moore. I think that for Torts, the centerpiece was Dorsett - Mr. Brandon Prust 2.0 and I'm willing to bet that if Columbus didn't want to include him, this trade never happens.
Putting your hand in a bigger guy's face, while awesome, is not the same as being a grinder or playing a strictly grinding game. Zucc plays a creative game. He skates the puck in and looks for smart passes. That is not the "Torts game" that people rag on so often, the dump, chase, grind sort of strategy. Stepan and Nash are the same - they play creative hockey, they don't dump, chase, grind and that's fine because they put up points and make chances all the time. Players can break the mold if the results are worth it.
Torts isn't the GM. I don't know how many times this needs to be said. He doesn't decide who goes or stays. He probably has a say in it like any coach does, but he doesn't deserve the blame for deals Sather makes.
And realistically, what did this trade (and the Clowe trade) do for us? It made us deeper certainly. But all it really did was ensure that we make the playoffs. So what? That helps Dolan's pockets, saves Tortorella and Sather's jobs and that's about it. We are not going deep into the playoffs with this team. IMHO, you don't trade a player like Gaborik unless 1) You are blowing up the team and getting futures or 2) trading him for players that will give you that extra "oomph" for a deep playoff run (i.e. Gartner for Andersson). The Gaborik trade, the Clowe trade (and it could be argued, the Nash trade) did neither of those things, and if it weren't for Hank, at this point, the Rangers would pretty much be the Panthers without a first round pick.
This team might go deep into the playoffs. That's the beauty of hockey. Once you make the dance, anything can happen. They're 5-1-1 since the trade. While they played some sloppy hockey at times, you don't lose games for playing sloppy, you lose by scoring less goals than the other team and they haven't done that very often recently.
Also, if you have 4 guys on huge deals like Richards, Nash, Gabby and Hank, and you need to make a trade in order to make the playoffs, something is wrong. Someone, or a group of people, are underperforming. Out of those 4, who makes sense to trade? Not Hank, the fact that NYR has him is a miracle. Not Nash, he's been the entire offense most of the year. As much as Richards sucks, his contract is extremely unappealing, maybe untradeable, and the team is already short at center. Gabby is obviously the odd man out. He was making a lot, almost a UFA, he was underperforming and he was worth something in a trade.
"If it weren't for Hank..." means nothign to me. If it weren't for their best player, a lot of teams would look like crap. Luckily, those alternate realities are meaningless.
In summation, I don't love Torts as a coach. I think it's possible that the team peaked with him last year, but I think it's probably too early to make that call at this point. I wish he'd bring in a PP specialist. I wish he'd ride out certain lines longer before breaking them up. I wish he'd tell the guys to stop dumping on the PP every single time they enter the zone etc. There are problems with him for sure, like with any coach. However, I don't think that he's to blame for Gaborik's decline one bit. Gabby wasn't putting in the proper effort and wasn't putting up points, combine that with being near UFA, having a huge contract and being able to fetch a decent return and you have a trade. I have no problem with that.
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