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Old
07-25-2009, 06:10 PM
  #1
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Explain Torts' System

I never played organized hockey but I have been a hockey fan all my life. The most overused expression amongst Rangers fans IMO is "John Tortorella's system". I know he was only here for 30 or so games but I still saw a team that had so little confidence offensively and didnt have the mindset to bury pucks in the net. I thought game 7 was the best game we played under Torts but it still seemed like we would need another 5 periods to get the go-ahead goal because we were so inept.

For those of you who have some knowledge of the tactical side of hockey, explain to me what Torts' system provides that lets say Renney's did not. There were games under Renney where our puck possession and pressure in the offensive zone was the best I've seen watching any NHL game, specifically the games overseas vs Tampa.

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07-25-2009, 06:41 PM
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TomLaidlaw
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Torts System: Firmly grip water bottle with right hand. Identify overweight fan of opposing team. Throw water bottle at fan. Await suspension. Bask in the glow of your own hypocrisy.

Note: You must do all of this aggressively.

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07-25-2009, 06:51 PM
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Tortorellas system of play is almost completely the opposite of Tom Renneys.

I might not be 100% correct with everything i say here - because things could adapt, or JT could employ small idiosyncrasies and coverage plans i am not aware of - but here is how i see it.

Last season we didn't see the full version of it, as Torts had to pull back the defenseman because of too many odd man rushes coming the other way on Henrik.

He plays an up tempo, aggressive forechecking game whos purpose is to put pressure on the other teams defense deep in the zone with more scoring chances coming from creating the turnovers at the other teams blueline as well as the red line.

The defenseman on the Rangers will be expected to hold their own blueline as well as not backing past the redline too early to disrupt the flow and oncoming rush of the other team. It is a skating system, one that depends on coverage from the forwards coming back and picking up the late man as well as staying at the points and helping out low while the other team has control of the puck. He also expects the defense to play with what he calls "jam". He wants the crease area to be a tough area to play for the oppositions forwards. But defense isnt the main focal point like Renneys was.

There is a lot of reading and reacting in his system which is extremely important. There is a lot of covering up and movement. The forwards as well as the defensmen are expected to jump into a play to outnumber the opposition (there is the aggressiveness again) and it is up to the weak side or supporting player to read that and cover up into where that player had vacated his position. As a side note that could pose a problem for players like Lisin and Zherdev who for some like to "float" or not take the straight line to the puck, or take a hit to make a play. Small position plays on the boards (and open ice) and supporting your teammates in certain areas allow the system to flourish.

Uptempo practice habits are expected from Tortorella as well, as he expects a furious and uptempo forechecking game. Forwards with speed and good boardwork are relied on to generate offense once a presence is dictated in the oppositions zone. Skilled forwards are a plus, and shots shot shots to the net, from everywhere including the defenseman are encouraged as long as the shooting lane is there. Pressure on the crease is a must.

A byproduct of all of this is puck possession. Tortorella likes the forwards to handle the puck as well as the defenseman through the play. He wants a quick transition game, but he also likes to keep the puck away from the other team in the theory that a teams best defense is offense and possession.

In turn, the goaltender is heavily relied on to make big time saves, usually that of an odd man rush variety. He understands he has one of the best goaltenders in the league in this category in Lundqvist, which makes him salivate at the fact he can push the envelope even more. But the key here is you need the right players to perform the tasks at hand and it has to be done at an optimum level for the duration of the game, otherwise you are susceptible to those types of high quality chances more often.

Its a risky game, but with the players in place and the condition levels Tortorella demands, its an exciting and high risk high reward game.

He has stated that in the past hes gotten carried away with pushing the offense too much, and has learned that sometimes you have to reel the defensmen in, because there is a lot of pressure on them to stand up and make the right plays to jump start the attack - paired with pinching in in the offensive zone to keep the play alive. He will assess how much he can do that with the personnel he will have this year.

The PP is also an important cog in all of this as you look to draw and capitalize on the penalties you draw by forcing the other teams hand defensively.

I could be missing some small caveats but thats his system in a large nutshell.


Last edited by HockeyBasedNYC: 07-25-2009 at 07:17 PM.
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Old
07-25-2009, 07:02 PM
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First, let em state that you really weren't going to see what Torts wants to do during the time that he had taken over at the end of the 08-09 season. The team was what it was and the approach was that the Coach was going to be evaluating the players he had for the remainder of the season and then sit with Sather and re-construct this team more in the image he wants.

As for Torts system, it's heavily based on conditioning and skating. His teams forecheck hard hoping to create turnovers in the neutral and offensive zone's. The conditioning comes in getting the forwards to commit to getting back in the defensive zone when they get caught. Additionally he likes having his defenceman pinch...alot. It's the one aspect of his system that can get his teams in trouble and asking a Renney team to do this would have resulted in massive 2 on 1's against us.

I think we all saw at the rookie camp what the pro camp is going to look like. This team better come to Greenburgh NY in tip top shape cause they are going to get worked.

So, Hard forechecking pressure all over the ice kind of style, generating a cycle down low, pinching by defenceman, and commitment by the forwards to getting back on defence ensuring that there are limited to no odd man situations in the defensive zone.

He's not a 5 man in the picture kind of guy. He's the Anti-Trap kind of coach and if the system is done right, it's a solid system that can beat most traps.

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07-25-2009, 07:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomLaidlaw View Post
Torts System: Firmly grip water bottle with right hand. Identify overweight fan of opposing team. Throw water bottle at fan. Await suspension. Bask in the glow of your own hypocrisy.

Note: You must do all of this aggressively.
We have a winner! waitttthis isnt the devils board...

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07-25-2009, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSG the place to be View Post
I never played organized hockey but I have been a hockey fan all my life. The most overused expression amongst Rangers fans IMO is "John Tortorella's system". I know he was only here for 30 or so games but I still saw a team that had so little confidence offensively and didnt have the mindset to bury pucks in the net. I thought game 7 was the best game we played under Torts but it still seemed like we would need another 5 periods to get the go-ahead goal because we were so inept.

For those of you who have some knowledge of the tactical side of hockey, explain to me what Torts' system provides that lets say Renney's did not. There were games under Renney where our puck possession and pressure in the offensive zone was the best I've seen watching any NHL game, specifically the games overseas vs Tampa.
Before getting into tactics. It seems Tortorella is heavy into conditioning. Like when he said he watched tired Rangers players in the first round of the playoffs. He thought that was unacceptable. Most people would agree.

The team did have little confidence putting the puck into the net. Like I said. I thought the Rangers play in late January and all of February of last season was some of the worst hockey I've ever seen in a long time. I thought on many occasions they were playing to tie and get into OT as opposed to being more aggressive offensively. Maybe they were just tired.

Part of the reason why Tortorella is here imo, is not just what he's accomplished as a head coach. But he put together an almost unstoppable PP in in Buffalo as an assistant.

As far as tactics between Renney and Tortorella. One former head coach used the 1-2-2 system (Renney) and Tortorella uses a more aggressive style with the 2-1-2.

I prefer that style if you have the right personnel. It worked real well for Paul Maurice in Carolina as opposed to the 1-2-2 he was employing in Toronto.

And the Rangers did play well against Tampa Bay in the beginning of the season. Melrose claimed the Rangers were the only team to show up. I don't buy that though.

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07-25-2009, 07:49 PM
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07-25-2009, 08:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HockeyBasedNYC View Post
Tortorellas system of play is almost completely the opposite of Tom Renneys.

I might not be 100% correct with everything i say here - because things could adapt, or JT could employ small idiosyncrasies and coverage plans i am not aware of - but here is how i see it.

Last season we didn't see the full version of it, as Torts had to pull back the defenseman because of too many odd man rushes coming the other way on Henrik.

He plays an up tempo, aggressive forechecking game whos purpose is to put pressure on the other teams defense deep in the zone with more scoring chances coming from creating the turnovers at the other teams blueline as well as the red line.

The defenseman on the Rangers will be expected to hold their own blueline as well as not backing past the redline too early to disrupt the flow and oncoming rush of the other team. It is a skating system, one that depends on coverage from the forwards coming back and picking up the late man as well as staying at the points and helping out low while the other team has control of the puck. He also expects the defense to play with what he calls "jam". He wants the crease area to be a tough area to play for the oppositions forwards. But defense isnt the main focal point like Renneys was.

There is a lot of reading and reacting in his system which is extremely important. There is a lot of covering up and movement. The forwards as well as the defensmen are expected to jump into a play to outnumber the opposition (there is the aggressiveness again) and it is up to the weak side or supporting player to read that and cover up into where that player had vacated his position. As a side note that could pose a problem for players like Lisin and Zherdev who for some like to "float" or not take the straight line to the puck, or take a hit to make a play. Small position plays on the boards (and open ice) and supporting your teammates in certain areas allow the system to flourish.

Uptempo practice habits are expected from Tortorella as well, as he expects a furious and uptempo forechecking game. Forwards with speed and good boardwork are relied on to generate offense once a presence is dictated in the oppositions zone. Skilled forwards are a plus, and shots shot shots to the net, from everywhere including the defenseman are encouraged as long as the shooting lane is there. Pressure on the crease is a must.

A byproduct of all of this is puck possession. Tortorella likes the forwards to handle the puck as well as the defenseman through the play. He wants a quick transition game, but he also likes to keep the puck away from the other team in the theory that a teams best defense is offense and possession.

In turn, the goaltender is heavily relied on to make big time saves, usually that of an odd man rush variety. He understands he has one of the best goaltenders in the league in this category in Lundqvist, which makes him salivate at the fact he can push the envelope even more. But the key here is you need the right players to perform the tasks at hand and it has to be done at an optimum level for the duration of the game, otherwise you are susceptible to those types of high quality chances more often.

Its a risky game, but with the players in place and the condition levels Tortorella demands, its an exciting and high risk high reward game.

He has stated that in the past hes gotten carried away with pushing the offense too much, and has learned that sometimes you have to reel the defensmen in, because there is a lot of pressure on them to stand up and make the right plays to jump start the attack - paired with pinching in in the offensive zone to keep the play alive. He will assess how much he can do that with the personnel he will have this year.

The PP is also an important cog in all of this as you look to draw and capitalize on the penalties you draw by forcing the other teams hand defensively.

I could be missing some small caveats but thats his system in a large nutshell.
Awesome post.

You pretty much nailed it, and said it 10x better then I would have been able to explain it.

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07-25-2009, 08:05 PM
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Longtime Bolts fan here, and I think HockeybasedNYC got it right on the money. It's really a very high uptempo forechecking system, with high risk/hi reward. It also DOES piss goalies off. That was the main reason Habby left, he was really sick of the oddman rushes coming back the other way. If Torts has the right personnel, it can be very effective however. I think he realizes Henrik can bail the guys out most of the time, so why not go for it? It actually makes some sense to me with this team.

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07-25-2009, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donGjohnson View Post
Longtime Bolts fan here, and I think HockeybasedNYC got it right on the money. It's really a very high uptempo forechecking system, with high risk/hi reward. It also DOES piss goalies off. That was the main reason Habby left, he was really sick of the oddman rushes coming back the other way. If Torts has the right personnel, it can be very effective however. I think he realizes Henrik can bail the guys out most of the time, so why not go for it? It actually makes some sense to me with this team.
Do you think we have the right personnel?

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07-25-2009, 08:08 PM
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Basically everything that HockeyBasedNYC said, simply amazing post man!

I hope to dear god that we have the personel to pull it off though...out strongest suit DEFINITELY being the demi-god that we have in between the pipes that can definitely handle the odd-man rushes...but the offense and defense of the system hmmm guess we'll definitely see within the first 20 games if this team is up to it or not.

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07-25-2009, 08:15 PM
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07-25-2009, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomLaidlaw View Post
Torts System: Firmly grip water bottle with right hand. Identify overweight fan of opposing team. Throw water bottle at fan. Await suspension. Bask in the glow of your own hypocrisy.

Note: You must do all of this aggressively.
As far as differences:
You also forgot to mention a Stanley Cup winning head coach, Jack Adams Award Winner, a coach who is right up top as one of the most winningest U.S. born coaches of all time in the NHL (if not the most). It will probably be neck and neck with Laviolette. A coach who turned around the "country club" mentality in Tampa.
And when the Rangers evidently needed a change last season he answered the bell without knowing a single player on the team.

They had to adjust from one style of play to another. But they weren't in enough shape to last.

And yet your summary is that he threw a water bottle into the crowd after being drenched in beers. Someone has to work security at the Verizon Center. It left such a scar on his reputation that he's on the coaching staff in the Olympics this year.


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07-25-2009, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Rugs by Resch View Post
We have a winner! waitttthis isnt the devils board...

Precisely. What are you doing here again?

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07-25-2009, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by gravytrain6t View Post
As far as differences:
You also forgot to mention a Stanley Cup winning head coach, Jack Adams Award Winner, a coach who is right up top as one of the most winningest U.S. born coaches of all time in the NHL (if not the most). It will probably be neck and neck with Laviolette. A coach who turned around the "country club" mentality in Tampa.
And when the Rangers evidently needed a change last season he answered the bell without knowing a single player on the team.

They had to adjust from one style of play to another. But they weren't in enough shape to last.

And yet your summary is that he threw a water bottle into the crowd after being drenched in beers. Someone has to work security at the Verizon Center. It left such a scar on his reputation that he's on the coaching staff in the Olympics this year.

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07-25-2009, 10:29 PM
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What I dont understand about him and don't really like is that with his uptempo system he's a 3 line coach.Without a top notch superstar that gets alot of minutes, isnt that a recipe for disaster? We need a superstar first line center to make his system work IMO.

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07-25-2009, 10:54 PM
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Zherdev is not the right personnel for torts system IMO. Wish he was though.

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07-25-2009, 11:00 PM
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The thing is though Gaborik is going to have to stay healthy. Looking at TB during his time there--they had Le Cavalier, St. Louis, Richards--real offensive stars--the Rangers as currently constructed don't have the same top end talent. Boyle as well--Rozsival and Redden don't even compare.

My honest opinion he's going to have a hybrid between what he used to have in TB and what we saw last year with the Rangers. I think we're going to be more aggressive on the forecheck and we're certainly going to be bigger and tougher--but this team is going to have to grind games out a lot more than his Lightning teams used to.

There's one other thing--it's almost funny because Renney was quite proud of the condition of his team--I liked Tom but it's obvious that he was too nice and he lost his grip and the players slacked--so to me there was a question of leadership from the coaching staff to the players themselves--especially the veterans. There are not too many forwards left from last year's team--Drury, Dubinsky, Callahan and Avery who arrived late and brought some edge back to a vanilla team. Anyway Tortorella I'm expecting is going to be a lot harder on these guys.

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07-25-2009, 11:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HockeyBasedNYC View Post
Tortorellas system of play is almost completely the opposite of Tom Renneys.

I might not be 100% correct with everything i say here - because things could adapt, or JT could employ small idiosyncrasies and coverage plans i am not aware of - but here is how i see it.

Last season we didn't see the full version of it, as Torts had to pull back the defenseman because of too many odd man rushes coming the other way on Henrik.

He plays an up tempo, aggressive forechecking game whos purpose is to put pressure on the other teams defense deep in the zone with more scoring chances coming from creating the turnovers at the other teams blueline as well as the red line.

The defenseman on the Rangers will be expected to hold their own blueline as well as not backing past the redline too early to disrupt the flow and oncoming rush of the other team. It is a skating system, one that depends on coverage from the forwards coming back and picking up the late man as well as staying at the points and helping out low while the other team has control of the puck. He also expects the defense to play with what he calls "jam". He wants the crease area to be a tough area to play for the oppositions forwards. But defense isnt the main focal point like Renneys was.

There is a lot of reading and reacting in his system which is extremely important. There is a lot of covering up and movement. The forwards as well as the defensmen are expected to jump into a play to outnumber the opposition (there is the aggressiveness again) and it is up to the weak side or supporting player to read that and cover up into where that player had vacated his position. As a side note that could pose a problem for players like Lisin and Zherdev who for some like to "float" or not take the straight line to the puck, or take a hit to make a play. Small position plays on the boards (and open ice) and supporting your teammates in certain areas allow the system to flourish.

Uptempo practice habits are expected from Tortorella as well, as he expects a furious and uptempo forechecking game. Forwards with speed and good boardwork are relied on to generate offense once a presence is dictated in the oppositions zone. Skilled forwards are a plus, and shots shot shots to the net, from everywhere including the defenseman are encouraged as long as the shooting lane is there. Pressure on the crease is a must.

A byproduct of all of this is puck possession. Tortorella likes the forwards to handle the puck as well as the defenseman through the play. He wants a quick transition game, but he also likes to keep the puck away from the other team in the theory that a teams best defense is offense and possession.

In turn, the goaltender is heavily relied on to make big time saves, usually that of an odd man rush variety. He understands he has one of the best goaltenders in the league in this category in Lundqvist, which makes him salivate at the fact he can push the envelope even more. But the key here is you need the right players to perform the tasks at hand and it has to be done at an optimum level for the duration of the game, otherwise you are susceptible to those types of high quality chances more often.

Its a risky game, but with the players in place and the condition levels Tortorella demands, its an exciting and high risk high reward game.

He has stated that in the past hes gotten carried away with pushing the offense too much, and has learned that sometimes you have to reel the defensmen in, because there is a lot of pressure on them to stand up and make the right plays to jump start the attack - paired with pinching in in the offensive zone to keep the play alive. He will assess how much he can do that with the personnel he will have this year.

The PP is also an important cog in all of this as you look to draw and capitalize on the penalties you draw by forcing the other teams hand defensively.

I could be missing some small caveats but thats his system in a large nutshell.
superbly explained, the parts i bolded are the linchpins of this system.

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07-25-2009, 11:21 PM
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What I dont understand about him and don't really like is that with his uptempo system he's a 3 line coach.Without a top notch superstar that gets alot of minutes, isnt that a recipe for disaster? We need a superstar first line center to make his system work IMO.
He believes that if you have a thoroughbred you have to run him. Guys like Gaborik are in their own class, and in Torts' words- you have to "let him go" or do his own thing. Creative players like that are few and far between, and in a system based on offense youll want your horses on the ice the most. Especially for a guy who has the ability to smash the 50 goal mark in a wide open system like this. He used VL in the same way, and it was tough at first for him to realize that you have to really let players like that "go"

You can't play this system tentatively, or worried about injury. Its 100% or sit the bench. Tortorella knows what he needs out of his team, and hell know when to give his top 3 lines a rest. But the reason he can run 3 lines more often is for a couple of reasons. #1 is that he stresses conditioning levels be at the maximum. Hes already stated that the practice habits of this team "stunk" last year.

This allows the team to compete at a higher level for the duration of the game. It wont prevent against injury, but it will guard against fatigue, and thats when injuries are more likely to occur.

He also believes that when you are an aggressive team and are forcing the issue, its an easier game to play then if you are on defense - and hes right. When your chasing and running around guarding players its a much tougher stop and go game then if you are dictating the play and have possession more often.

If it turns out the personnel is wrong for this type of system, then he has to be a smart enough coach to be able to adapt... and i think he is. Hes honest with the players and more importantly hes honest with himself. It seemed like he did a bit of growing when he was out of the game and realized that if things dont work out, you cant always press the issue even if you think its the right way to play. You have to back up and take another look at what you have and what you will need to do to succeed.

We'll see if Slats has brought in the right type of players to support such a system at full throttle.


Last edited by HockeyBasedNYC: 07-25-2009 at 11:27 PM.
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Old
07-26-2009, 12:31 PM
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HockeyBasedNYC View Post
Tortorellas system of play is almost completely the opposite of Tom Renneys.

I might not be 100% correct with everything i say here - because things could adapt, or JT could employ small idiosyncrasies and coverage plans i am not aware of - but here is how i see it.

Last season we didn't see the full version of it, as Torts had to pull back the defenseman because of too many odd man rushes coming the other way on Henrik.

He plays an up tempo, aggressive forechecking game whos purpose is to put pressure on the other teams defense deep in the zone with more scoring chances coming from creating the turnovers at the other teams blueline as well as the red line.

The defenseman on the Rangers will be expected to hold their own blueline as well as not backing past the redline too early to disrupt the flow and oncoming rush of the other team. It is a skating system, one that depends on coverage from the forwards coming back and picking up the late man as well as staying at the points and helping out low while the other team has control of the puck. He also expects the defense to play with what he calls "jam". He wants the crease area to be a tough area to play for the oppositions forwards. But defense isnt the main focal point like Renneys was.

There is a lot of reading and reacting in his system which is extremely important. There is a lot of covering up and movement. The forwards as well as the defensmen are expected to jump into a play to outnumber the opposition (there is the aggressiveness again) and it is up to the weak side or supporting player to read that and cover up into where that player had vacated his position. As a side note that could pose a problem for players like Lisin and Zherdev who for some like to "float" or not take the straight line to the puck, or take a hit to make a play. Small position plays on the boards (and open ice) and supporting your teammates in certain areas allow the system to flourish.

Uptempo practice habits are expected from Tortorella as well, as he expects a furious and uptempo forechecking game. Forwards with speed and good boardwork are relied on to generate offense once a presence is dictated in the oppositions zone. Skilled forwards are a plus, and shots shot shots to the net, from everywhere including the defenseman are encouraged as long as the shooting lane is there. Pressure on the crease is a must.

A byproduct of all of this is puck possession. Tortorella likes the forwards to handle the puck as well as the defenseman through the play. He wants a quick transition game, but he also likes to keep the puck away from the other team in the theory that a teams best defense is offense and possession.

In turn, the goaltender is heavily relied on to make big time saves, usually that of an odd man rush variety. He understands he has one of the best goaltenders in the league in this category in Lundqvist, which makes him salivate at the fact he can push the envelope even more. But the key here is you need the right players to perform the tasks at hand and it has to be done at an optimum level for the duration of the game, otherwise you are susceptible to those types of high quality chances more often.

Its a risky game, but with the players in place and the condition levels Tortorella demands, its an exciting and high risk high reward game.

He has stated that in the past hes gotten carried away with pushing the offense too much, and has learned that sometimes you have to reel the defensmen in, because there is a lot of pressure on them to stand up and make the right plays to jump start the attack - paired with pinching in in the offensive zone to keep the play alive. He will assess how much he can do that with the personnel he will have this year.

The PP is also an important cog in all of this as you look to draw and capitalize on the penalties you draw by forcing the other teams hand defensively.

I could be missing some small caveats but thats his system in a large nutshell.
Great post!!!! Thanks!

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07-26-2009, 02:00 PM
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSG the place to be View Post
I never played organized hockey but I have been a hockey fan all my life. The most overused expression amongst Rangers fans IMO is "John Tortorella's system". I know he was only here for 30 or so games but I still saw a team that had so little confidence offensively and didnt have the mindset to bury pucks in the net. I thought game 7 was the best game we played under Torts but it still seemed like we would need another 5 periods to get the go-ahead goal because we were so inept.

For those of you who have some knowledge of the tactical side of hockey, explain to me what Torts' system provides that lets say Renney's did not. There were games under Renney where our puck possession and pressure in the offensive zone was the best I've seen watching any NHL game, specifically the games overseas vs Tampa.
I understand exactly how you feel; and it summerize exactly the transition problems many NHL coaches have had after the lockout -- with transforming their teams to be able to play hockey without the redline offside rule and no clutching and grabbing.

If you hear a coach explain how he wants his team to play by saying that he wants his team to play "a up tempo, aggressive forechecking game" -- you got to wonder what that team will do when the other team gets past their own blueline because then you aren't forechecking anymore, you are backchecking. HockeyBasedNYC wrote a great post of the aspect Torts leans heavily on -- but in that post he covered 90-95% of the game of hockey with 1 sentence and then had 31 sentances regarding the last 5-10% of the game... And that was Torts major problem in Tampa, he had a team with a bunch of awsome players and finnished last in the NHL. I know I know, that team wasn't perfect -- but they still were a helluva lot better then many of the bottomfeeders in this league... But his team was not complete, when we played Tampa we pwned them and erazed LeCav from the game completely just by playing holding on to the puck, Tampa had no answears. Betts shut down LeCav. It wasn't about Bullin-wall or Boyle missing some games, Tampa just wasn't any good after the lockout. They played a flawed style.

Like we saw against Washington, you can't build a team around a uptempo forechecking game against a team that takes the puck and carries it all over the ice and keeps it in the attacking zone. In G7 when we got a hold of them, and they were nervous and what not, it worked in period 1, half decently in period 2 and failed again in period 3. After failing for 6 straight games basically.

To understand where Tortorella is comming from, and to give a platform to base a guess on regarding where he is gooing in the future, we need to look back quite a few years.

Around 1993 New Jersey Devils started to play a system that was named "the trap" in the NHL. Later any organized defensive system have been called the trap to, so don't get hanged up on that word.

Their system was created to put players in the best positions to counterattack after you won the puck. Thats important to remeber, its a system created to create offense. And it definitly did! New Jersey Devils scoured the 2nd most amount of goals in the NHL in 1994, more then NYR and less only then the Red Wings. For example. It only became a low scoring system when everyone in the league played it at the same time.

For thoose who don't know what the real NJD trap was about; there was a man in Sweden who studid hockey at University level and wrote a paper about goals scored in hockey. He found out that like 90% of the goals at that time, the late 80's, were scored seconds after giveaways in the neutral zone. He then sat down and thought about it, every team spent all their energy on getting into the attackingzone and try to score from there -- when in reality the goals where scored not after pretty plays and passes, but after the attacking team made misstakes. A team in Sweden started playing that way, and had a ton of success with it. NJD went to Sweden to scout Tommy Albelin and the rest is histrory...

The results of the trap became that the most talented teams didn't win. You basically didn't need the skilled centers for example to win. A Bobby Holik was just as valuble.

But the teams with the Forsberg and Sakics, with the Lecavaliers and co, they needed to do something.

Colorado is really the first team in the NHL who I saw play the STLYE JOHN TORTORELLA USED AS A HEAD COACH IN TAMPA in the NHL.

Its a system where you pressure all over the ice, with wingers designed and designated to be able to take away the boards, while you drop back further then the redline, you drop back further then NJD, your D's drop back all the way to their own defensive blueline. With the forwards pressureing all over the ice, you have them come back with speed and therefor you also get allot of support for your D's since your forwards are all skating at the same speed as the attacking team. Your D's then end up in perfect position to make high defensive plays at their own blue. Stand up forwards with good ol'e body checks.

The purpose with the system is that after hits like that from your D's, which results in won pucks at your defensive blueline -- the other team is then stretched out all over the neutralzone basically. That opens up room for skilled centers in the neutral zone. That won Tampa Bay the Cup. That won Colorado 2 Cups.

You don't backdown and trap at the redline like NJD as of mid 90's did. You don't play it safe with 3 guys back all the time like the leftwing lock that Detroit and Dallas used. You stress hard all over the ice, make sure that your D's have a ton of support with people comming back with speed, you have big wingers who you can pass the pcuk to up the boards who then can direct it to a skilled center right away after a won puck at your own blueline.

So again, its a system designed to create room in the neutral zone by making high defensive plays, by having D's in position to step up on their own blueline and having wingers coming back to support them.

It sounds great, right? 3 teams have won cups with it.

But what happend after the lockout? What happend to Tortorella's Tampa Bay? What happend to ex Colorado coach Bob Hartleys Atlanta? Detroit lost Hasek but became better after the lockout. Tampa lost Bullinwall and went from the best team in the league to the worst. Why is that?

You stopped winning thoose defensive battles high up ice. Guys like Michael Nylander suddenly could skate 8's around the Sutton's, Exelby's, Vishnevsky's of the league. The Lukowich's, Sarich's and Jassen Cullimores in Tampa wasn't able to hit guys at Tampa's defensive blueline anymore. Even the Nylanders of the league suddenly could skate 8's around them.

John Tortorella never figured that out in Tampa. Bob Hartley never figured that out in Atlanta. Not even after 3 years. They kept building more and more extreme in the same direction. To get better D's, and to provide thoose D's with better support -- so that they could win thoose darn defensive battles at their own defensive bluelien...

This is how Tortorella described it in interviews after signing here:
Quote:
"I have always liked the pressure game. We're gonna try to pressure... We're not trapping. Everybody thinks it's a defensive system; it's a transition mechanism. But I've gotta be careful; I made a major mistake last year with our team in Tampa where I was too aggressive and our D couldn't handle it and it cost us. I made a huge mistake in not changing that a little bit. I waited too long."
The fact that he descibes it as "our D couldn't handle it" kind of scares me. Because I haven't seen any D in this league who can stand up a Zach Parise, Michael Nylander or any of the talented players in this league at their own blueline on a regular basis. Its just not happening anywhere, by anyone. Phaneuf isn't able to do it, Lidström isn't able to do it, Pronger isn't able to do it. Not on a regular basis. The game have changed.

The reason things turned into a disaster in both Tampa and Atlanta for example for teams with that philopsophy is that they didn't have a ALTERNATIVE "transition mechanism". Pittsburgh have also played somewhat like that, but it haven't hurt them as much because they just give the puck to Malkin or Crosby and asks them to skate with it. But it defeinitly have hurt even Pittsburgh for stretches.

The Bottomline

I have above described how Torts wants his team to play in the transition game and defensivly during the other teams transition game. The transitiongame today is the motor of any team in the NHL. If you can get the puck deep under controll, you will worry any team in the NHL. Like when we played the Islanders with a AHL roster and they got the puck deep on us we had problems, thats how it is today. Its extremely hard to defend in your own end. Thats why it is so darn important to be able to hold on to the puck and get it safely across the ice, if you give it away gooing up ice odds are that you are facing 40-50 seconds of defensive play in your own end with the risk of taking penaltys and all that.

To me this is really the key for Tortorella here in NY.

Like its great that he have gotten our D's more involved in the attacking game. But lets think about it, when we have the puck under controll in the attacking zone he wants the D's to rush in from the blueline to open things up -- thats great -- but how often did we get that far in 7 games against Washington? Like you said, it seems like we chased the puck in our end for 95% of the time, and when we won it we gave it back to them right away just to make a linechange...

And its kind of the same thing with the forechecking game. Like imagine our series against Washington again. They push us back and get a circle gooing in our zone, Paul Mara gets the puck in the right corner and makes a fast pass up ice to a winger who got 3 Caps players around him, that player manage to gain the redline and then dumps the puck in and we make a linechange. Washington goes back and collects the puck. What is our 5 new fresh players supposed to do? Go in and chase after the puck like nuts against a D who is standing with the puck under controll behind his own net? They would skate 8's around us comming out of their own end, we would have no chance even if we had the Chara and Pronger on D and the best 3 forecheckers in the world on the ice. Inorder to forecheck we need to get a hold of the other team, again its about getting the puck into the attacking zone and pressuring them -- and then if we loose the puck when they are on their heels we gets a chance to get some forechecking gooing...

Nah the key for Tortorella in NY will be to be able to design a alternate transition mechanisim to back up his high-defensive-plays-on-your-own-defensive-blueline-which-open-up-ice-in-the-neutral-zone approch because that approch will never work against the AO's and co in this league. We need to be able to get the puck across the ice when we win it deep in our own end, and then keep it there in the attackingzone.


Last edited by Ola: 07-26-2009 at 02:06 PM.
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07-26-2009, 02:22 PM
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This thred hav gud posts.

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07-26-2009, 02:32 PM
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Torts system is simple, do what he says when he says & how he says it or ur riding the bench, lambasted in the press, ostriched by ur fellow teamates & Banished to the Phoneix Coyotes.

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07-26-2009, 03:02 PM
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Ola

I was waiting for you to come in here and shed even more light on the subject, because I've enjoyed reading many of your posts in the past about systems.

Great job giving the background on the system, how it originated, and where it falls in todays game.

You are exactly right when you talk about what needs to be done here, and how the aggressive forechecking system has been degenerated to a degree since the lockout - and thats what i was hinting at at the end of my original post, suggesting that Tortorella will have to learn to adapt and find a way to maximize the Rangers game with the final roster he will inherit.

Good stuff.

We'll see just how effective this will be here in ny, but one things for sure... it will surely be a hell of a lot more exciting brand of hockey than what we've seen the past 4 seasons under Renney

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