Upgrading skill at the sacrifice of toughness remains the right decision, despite frustrating results

February 25, 2013, by
The additions of skilled players like Rick Nash give the 2013 Rangers a higher ceiling

The additions of skilled players like Rick Nash give the 2013 Rangers a higher ceiling

John Tortorella was a deserving Jack Adams Award finalist in 2011-2012 because he squeezed every ounce out of an under-talented, overachieving group.  The Rangers made it to within two games of the Stanley Cup Finals well ahead of their anticipated window for contention because Tortorella got virtually every soldier on the roster to buy into the Black & Blueshirts mentality.  It was a tremendous achievement, but in the end it still fell well short of the ultimate goal.

So rather than continuing forward with a group that simply didn’t have the firepower to go all the way, the Rangers spent the offseason upgrading their skill.  Rick Nash was the big prize, but it could be argued that both Taylor Pyatt and Arron Asham have been upgrades offensively as well.  The influx of youngsters like Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Christian Thomas has only continued the organization down that path.

The early results this season have been disappointing.  The Rangers are floundering outside the playoff picture and haven’t done a very good job convincing uneasy fans that they’re capable of turning it around.  But as we’ve continued to preach here at BSB, it’s still very early, even in a shortened season.  The Rangers remain just a single point out of eighth place (with a game in hand) and have 31 games left to make it up.  The team can’t do much about its mounting injuries and if that trend continues, then the season just might be lost.  But it’s just too early to say that, especially without knowing the actual conditions of Nash, Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh.

Is the team “softer” than it was a year ago?  Probably, yes.  But that’s the tradeoff.  Things haven’t gelled quite yet, but remember that there are four new veteran forwards on board that didn’t have the benefit of a Tortorella training camp to learn exactly how this team plays.  Darroll Powe has had even less time to adjust as a midseason addition, while the youngsters are in over their heads to begin with and are learning on the fly.  It’s possible that there’s just been too much overhaul and New York won’t be able to get its act together in time to make a Cup run this year.

But it’s still way too early to jump to that conclusion, especially given the injuries that have plagued the team.  The key fact remains, this is a much more skilled team.  The new additions have actually been some of the team’s better players; it’s up to guys like Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan to start producing.  The goals will come, there’s just too much talent on the roster for that not to happen.  The same couldn’t be said for last year’s group.  That team was a joy to watch every night, but it didn’t have the ceiling the 2013 Rangers have.  Again, they may not get it all figured out this season, but if they do, there’s still a chance for a better ending than last year.


  1. Dave says:

    Would rather have skill already in the lineup. Grit is easier to find.

  2. Walt says:

    The trade was a great one when it was made, and I would do it over any day of the week. We have plenty of skill, but they seem to be flat at this time, Gabby & Richards that is. Can you imagine what it would look like had we not trades for Nash!!!

  3. tmd39 says:

    Don Cherry was talking about this Saturday during Coaches Corner; this Rangers team is much easier to play than last years team. He showed three different clips of Sens taking runs at Richards on Thursday, all without a Rangers response.

  4. SalMerc says:

    I think it is excellent to have a positive attitude, but eventually a team is what it’s record says it is. I hope this changes in the future, but at the moment, having one of the worst power plays in the league and being a bubble playoff team is what they are. Sugar-coat it as you wish. Talk about philosophy and player development and CAP all you want. The reality says that we are a middle-of-the pack team at best right now.

    • The Suit says:

      Rangers are 3rd in the league in hits. SOFT!!!

      • SalMerc says:

        Goals win games, not hits. Last or next to last in the power play. Look at the teams in the top spots here and look where they are in the standings. Take your hits, I want goals

  5. Dave says:

    Has anyone seen Taylor Pyatt?

    • nyr1579 says:

      thank you. last seen late january. nothing since. 4th line. thats where he belongs. maybe.

  6. Evan says:

    i know everyone misses prust, but 4 year 10 million for someone who is a step above a fighter is way too much when the cap is coming down to 64 million. Powe was a great addition until that concussion so i am glad to see him back.

    The fact nash is not skating and no news is coming out is very worrisome. We have just been bitten with a mix of bad luck and illegal conduct by other teams. I am hoping all these guys are back on the ice within a week or two.

    • Dave says:

      A round-table that includes Scotty? Pass.

      • Tom says:

        I second that

      • Chris F says:

        Not a fan of Scotty’s loathsome attitude toward Torts norand his pining for Avery, but I think some valid points were made.

        This team clearly lost its identity, its heart and soul, with the departure of guys like Dubinsky and Prust, even Mitchell, and some leadership in Rupp and Fedotenko.

        If the argument is we traded grit for skill, I gotta say, I’m still waiting for that skill to manifest.

        Things aren’t looking so good at the moment. But, I do think this team still has a bright future, just not much optimism for this season.

  7. Matt Josephs says:

    One thing I would like to see though is the Rangers draft some more guys with a physical presence. I’m glad we have the prospects we have, but really our only guys with a physical presence that can make it are Kyle Jean and Nieves.

    I’d kill for a David Backes guy right now.

  8. Mikeyyy says:

    The torterella watch is on. The few games before the skid, bought him a few weeks. But recent play seems to indicate he has lost his hold on his team.

    Gabby and Richards both playing like garbage now. Team keeps losing. Nash is out, McD got creamed.

    His predictable play schemes and breakouts are horrendous, the entire league knows how to stop a ranger rush now.

    There is no dynamic play, no creativity, the players are timid and don’t want to be benched.

    Sounds like a firing scenario to me. Sometimes a team needs a change. Lts put it this way, do you think another coach could squeeze more out of the rangers this season than torts?

    If the answer is yes, then there is a coaching situation. Regardless of how the team did last year, or the year before, how is the team doing now? Think long and hard, and you will see what I see, that a change is needed.

    Play needs to be centered around getting the star players playing. It’s not a matter of getting everyone to play, he just can’t seem to jump start gabby and richie.

    • Walt says:

      As good as Torts has been in the past, what has he done for the organization lately? Nothing, therefore if you can’t get the team to play for you, someone has lost an edge, and Torts may be the one to go.

      When he arrived on the sceen I thought how great was this, the team played their hearts out, but I don’t believe that is the case any more. I for one won’t pin all the problems on him, injuries are not his fault, but when no one responds to your coaching style any longer, show him the door.

      Sorry Suit, and the other supporters of Torts, but we can ill afford to continue down this road, and miss out on the play-offs. As much as Torts was to be great with kids, look at the Kreider kid, I believe he is breaking this kids spirit at this time. The PP stinks to high heaven, the PK is suspect, the jam is gone, and he refuses to make any changes to his coaching staff, and or system. Einstein he ain’t!!!!!!

    • SalMerc says:

      Absolutely Correct

  9. supermaz says:

    Trade Tortorella …he’s a horses ass .

  10. TheRocket says:

    Tortorella’s whole shtick is wearing thin, he sucks the creativity out of the team and the players resent him. Richards, Gaborik, Nash, Callahan, the Rangers have plenty of firepower but Torts system sucks the life out of the players and they play like robots. You can’t put a Ferrari in the hands of a UPS driver and expect a good result. Fire Him Now!