Conditioning, conditioning, conditioning

May 3, 2012, by

During last night’s thrilling triple overtime win over the Capitals, the Rangers appeared to look gassed at several points through the first and second overtimes. I say “appeared” because once the third overtime rolled around, the Rangers either found a second wind, or just had more stamina and gas in the tank than the Caps, and it showed. The Rangers thoroughly dominated the third overtime, and they seemed to find another level in their game, a level that the Caps could not match.

And they did this all with an incredibly short bench. Stu Bickel played just 3:42 all game, and didn’t see a shift after the first five minutes of the second period. The combination of Mike Rupp and John Mitchell didn’t see significant ice time either. In fact, they only had nine shifts a piece through the first 60 minutes. Rupp had 11 shifts in the extra 54 minutes, and Mitchell had 10 shifts.

In essence, the Rangers are playing with ten forwards and five defensemen. Pretty amazing to think that even with a short bench, and some unreal ice times (53 minutes for Ryan McDoangh…really?), they still managed to look fresher than the Caps. That’s all due to John Tortorella.

While the concerns are always going to be centered around the minutes played by some of the core guys, some credit needs to be given to the coaching staff for keeping this club in the shape they are in. Just when it looked like someone was tired or gassed, there was a next level they found. When it appeared that the Caps were ready to pounce, someone was there to stifle a rush or block a shot.

The players are the ones exceeding all expectations right now when it comes to performance related to ice time. Did anyone think that McDonagh would be able to catch up with Jason Chimera on a rush in the third overtime, despite already playing 50 minutes? Did anyone think that John Mitchell would get back in time, after turning the puck over, to block John Carlson’s shot attempt?

Camp Torturella has whipped these guys into shape. Considering the style that they play, they need to be in the best shape of their lives. They are proving that they can just outlast the opposition in marathons. Few teams can skate with them. That’s all on the coaching staff. Kudos for conditioning.


  1. ranger17 says:

    maybe just maybe Torts will give the 4th line some more minutes in regulation time now that he see’s how they played in the ot’s Mitch and Rupp had the game on their sticks . Boyle made a great save on Rupp LOL. If Torts only wants to play Bickel 3 or 4 minutes in a game like this then we need someone else in the line up .

    • Chris F says:

      The thing about Bickel is this: he made a mistake in the second period (and he’s made several mistakes of late). This is why he sat for the third. It’s the playoffs; accountability is magnified. It’s nothing more than that.

      After regulation, though, I felt, and I’m sure some of you will echo this, that Bickel’s fresh legs were needed. The guys playing 45+ minutes needed some relieve, and a guy like Bickel, only playing 4 minutes all night, could step up and outpace the Capitals’ players more than anyone on the Rangers bench at that time. So, I was wondering, why the hell is Torts not letting Bickel play?

      Tortorella answered that in last night’s press conference. He wanted to play Bickel, he could have used the fresh legs. His decision not to play Bickel wasn’t personal; it wasn’t because he had made an earlier mistake. It was because at this point in the game, Bickel was cold. He had been sitting since the 2nd period of regulation. The intensity of the game had dramatically picked up. The pace was grueling. The importance of every play maximized. Throwing Bickel into that situation cold off the bench for so long, Torts said, would have been a tough situation to put Bickel in.

      I think I agree. Torts is not an egomaniacal grudge-holder. You get what you earn with him. But, the matchups and the dynamic of the game take priority over guy’s feelings. While it may have seemed personal in the decision to keep Bickel on the bench through 3 overtime periods, Torts explained himself, and I take him at his word.

      • Steve D says:

        My only question is the warmups between periods. Can’t these guys get warm during that skate?

        • Chris F says:

          I think Torts feared that Bickel would be mentally cold more than anything, I think.

      • The Suit says:

        Nice post Chris F.

      • Blueshirt in Paris says:

        It makes sense. Not only are you physically ‘cold’ but mentally as well.

        So he is at a disadvantage. Would it be fair to put him in that spot only to have him screw up again. Forget the impact on the team but on Bickle personally. You play 4 min and you cost the team the entire game?

    • Papa bear says:

      Does anyone think The hit on McDonogh was dirty? I thought Hendriks left his feet and targeted his head.

  2. roadrider says:

    I was at the game and I have to tell you that while the Rangers indeed seemed to find a second (third?) wind in the 3rd OT many guys on both teams looked like they were dragging anchors behind them by the second OT. For the most part the play was quite risk averse too. Yeah, there were some breakdowns, mostly related line changes which were coming ever more frequently as the game went on (and on, and on …). But for the most part both teams were going to great pains not to get too many guys caught deep in the offensive zone and were really picking their spots for big hits lest they put themselves out of the play.

    Glad it ended when it did because they were shutting the Metro down at 1 AM!

  3. Chris F says:

    What are your thoughts on the ludicrous league stipulation that the first whistle after the halfway mark of an overtime playoff period is to be used as a stoppage for ice resurfacing? The way it is written there is no exception for icing whistles, which occurred twice last night as the first whistle after the 10 minute mark, giving the Capitals a minute and a half rest on two different icing whistles.

    Those were two huge breaks for the Caps. The rule should be rewritten to be the first whistle after the halfway mark of overtime playoff periods, with the exception of icing calls. In such a situations, the ice resurfacing should be delayed until the next non-icing whistle.

  4. wwpd says:

    Chris F for nhl commissioner!

  5. Walt says:

    I have a so much respect for the team, the players, and the effert from last night. Looking at the bench, my heart went out there to the boys, and all I could think about was please don’t loose this one. Well Hank got the monkey off of his back last night, and I hope this is the spark we needed for this series.

    One thing is for certain, the Rangers looked fresher late in the game, Tort’s camp paid off last night. Man alive, McD took that hit, got up and didn’t miss a beat. When he was hit, I closed my eyes, afraid to see that he may have been hurt, thank goodness that wasn’t the case. A big shout out the Montreal, the gift that just keeps on giving!

  6. Chris F says:

    Hey BSB boys, what do you think of this break-down of the Gaborik goal by Justin Bourne?