One of the main reasons why we here at BSB were so excited about John Tortorella becoming head coach of our beloved Blueshirts was because he would finally make his skill players accountable for their actions and effort on the ice. Too many times did we see lackadaisical efforts go unpunished by Tom Renney (no offense to the Renney lovers, but this was so true it hurt).
All that changed during Thursday’s game with the Predators. First, we saw a change in the lines, as Markus Naslund was dropped to the 3rd line for his inability, thus far, to keep up with the demands on the ice of Torts. You can argue that this happened during the game against Carolina on Tuesday, but it was official for the starting lineups on Thursday.
But the accountability factor really took hold in the first period against Nashville. Nikolai Zherdev, probably the most skilled Ranger, had a lackluster effort throughout the period, which led to a terrible turnover and a goal against. From that point on, Zherdev saw just 6 minutes of playing time for the remainder of the first, and didn’t play at all for the rest of the game. There were several times when the cameras panned in on Zherdev, who looked like someone shot his puppy.
To this, I say, Bravo Torts. It’s about time the star players got punished for not trying. It sure did light a fire under Gomez, who has been the best Ranger not named Sean Avery or Henrik Lundqvist in the past few games. For this team to win, Gomez needs to be at the top of his game, and that is exactly where he is right now.
I am a fan of Zherdev, and if the Rangers resign him, his will be the next jersey I purchase (with the need to retire my Prucha jersey). He is young, skilled, and exciting to watch, when he puts forth the effort. He, along with the rest of the Rangers, need to give 110% every game for the remainder of the season just to make the playoffs, so there is no room for any one player to just mail it in.
Kudos to Torts, kudos to accountability.