State of the Rangers

Mid-Season Report Card: John Tortorella

What more can I say about John Tortorella that I haven’t already said? I’ve covered his forechecking system, how players earn icetime within his team concept, and I gave you all insights into his line juggling strategy when many wanted to brand him a fool.

At this point I don’t want to beat a dead horse. I will say this; back in late October/early November we put up poll asking our readers if they thought Torts was the right man for the job and a little more than 50% said no. We are running a new poll (to your right) asking our readers their opinions of Tortorella post-24/7 and the results are staggering. Less than 5% think he’s a bad coach. Fifty percent to five percent. Wow.

The Good:

It’s not unique, but I am a proponent of Tortorella’s system. The 2-1-2 forechecking, the commitment to back pressure, dump & chase when a play isn’t there, getting defensemen involved in the OZ…it’s all part of his team concept and it is the right template given the makeup of this roster. A lot of other coaches use these strategies, but revert to trapping when they have the lead. Torts tells his guys to “not to let up” and “we’re going to keep coming at them.” It makes for exciting hockey and so far it is producing offense and wins.

Speaking of offense, so far this season our team is scoring almost three goals a game. When Tom Renney was let go, we were scoring just 2.4 goals a game. Obviously having our talent perform up to expectations has helped, but Torts positions his players deeper in the zone than Renney did, he is also great at making in-game adjustments, and it is paying off without sacrificing defense.

Much of the criticism from his bashers pre-24/7 focused around unfair treatment of his players. However, this was defeated thanks to HBO. Throughout those four episodes we saw motivational criticism directed at our star players as much as our grinders. Most of the time the tough love worked. We also saw him praise our defensemen on multiple occasions.

Where He Can Improve:

One reason why some of the fans didn’t see his strengths had to do with slanted media coverage. Obviously NYR beat writers aren’t going to go out of their way to write positive stuff about the guy when he’s constantly short with them. However, now that public opinion is on his side, he needs to do a better job of handling the media. Ultimately it doesn’t change our record, but it may one day influence his job status if we start losing again.

I’m sure some will point to our power play as an area that needs improvement, it does, but the problem isn’t in the formation, it’s in the execution. Pretty much every good coach in the NHL has presided over an efficient power play and an inefficient one at some point or another. Unless you have the Sedin twins, or Mike Green patrolling your blueline, there isn’t much consistency around the league. As young guys like Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh, Artem Anisimov, & Derek Stepan mature offensively, I believe their power play IQ will only get better. But that’s a post for another time…

Grade: A- 

*In case you missed it. We also wrote report cards for our bottom six forwards, top six forwardsdefense, & goalies.

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  • Spot on.

    He’s the perfect coach for the Rangers are barring a few issues he’s done well. He has a huge part to play in the organisation turning the reigns over to the kids.

    He clearly has the respect AND ear of Sather (how many previous coaches had it?)and barring the Avery crowd he shouldn’t have much opposition from fans.

    Personally, not that I know a great deal about Sullivan’s day to day influence, I would begin to consider outside (staff) help for the PP though.

  • You could bring a horse to the water, but you can’t force it to drink!

    Torts can talk, and diagram all day long, but it still falls back on the players, and their ability to perform. Torts can teach, coach, and befriend the players, but they have to play. This coach has done a great job with the kids, and vets alike. He rewards the players with playing time based on their play, and doesn’t give in to public opinion, for that I respect the man!

    His grade is about right, and at season’s end, we can review the results, and then grade him again. He is the right coach, for the right team, at the right time!!!!!

      • Definitely. His defensive system just got stale after a while. And that’s not to take anything away from Renney. He’s a good coach, but he leaned a little too much on his veterans (who weren’t producing) and it cost him.

  • we had so many passive coaches over the years ron lowe renney and oh god bryan trottier . torts is the right coach for the system and talent we have and the players are buying into his system some times you need a hard nosed style coach to get the best out of your players.look at the development os stepan del zotto and boyle under torts they are making good strides as hockey players thanks to torts and sullivans teaching i think if the rangers win the east torts should be considered for the jack adams award

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