“You know when you get old in life things get taken from you. I mean that’s, that’s part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life’s this game of inches. So is football.”
As some of our older readers might recall, this quote is an excerpt from one of the greatest cinematic coaching speeches of all time. Though, if Any Given Sunday had been about hockey and I were John Logan (the SAG member who likely fed Pacino that quote), I would have adjusted the quote to say…
“You find out life’s this game of adjustments. So is hockey.”
Last night’s opening brawl against the Devils is yet another example of how important it is for a hockey coach to make the right adjustments and get the right matchups out on the ice. If you missed this sequence, let me recap.
Peter Deboer, who is the away coach, must put his players out on the ice first. Deboer deployed Ryan Carter (who beat down Dubi earlier this month), Cam Janssen (goon), and Eric Boulton (goon) for the opening draw. Realizing the message Deboer was about to send our bench, Torts countered with Brandon Prust, Michael Rupp & strategically placed Stu Bickel at center. As expected, an all-out brawl ensued and the crowd feverishly got behind our boys.
Obviously my reaction to Torts inserting Bickel at center to face off against Carter was…effin brilliant!
A) Because you obviously don’t want Dubi, Stepan, Richards, or Boyle going against Carter
B) Bickel has fought Carter before
To my surprise and hopefully everyone else’s I was shocked when certain members of the media blamed Tortorella for the brawl and thought he should have countered with our skill players.
As Samuel L. Jackson famously said in Pulp Fiction, “well allow me to retort.”
In a perfect world, yes Torts could have deployed his first line in hopes to get some offense, but this isn’t a perfect world, nor was this even a moment of continuous play where such a tactic could conceivably work. No, this was a neutral zone faceoff to start the contest. The chance of even winning puck possession is 50/50.
On what planet would Torts take those odds and send his skilled players out on the ice to matchup against goons? Did we not learn anything from the Carcillo/Gaborik fight a few years ago? Did we not even learn from the incident where Deboer sent Boulton after Gaborik a few weeks ago?
To be honest, I’m glad what went down last night, so much so that I won’t even point fingers at Deboer for such questionable tactics. But if you are going to make a stink, don’t point a finger at Torts. Point one at yourself for not having a keen understanding of how this game is played.
If my own analysis isn’t good enough for you, please read the below quote from Tortorella, which was taken from a series of excellent quotes provided this afternoon by Andrew Gross at Rangers Rants.
I get put in a position when he puts a lineup like that out – and I’m not sure what’s going to happen if I put my top players out – so I have to answer the way I need to answer. Really, just look at the two lineups and some of the things he’s done through the games here, again, I don’t want to coach his team, but just shut up.
Gross covers the Rangers for The Record & the Herald News. You should follow him on twitter here.