NHL Playoffs 2012: Why New York Rangers Coach John Tortorella Needs to Step Up

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NHL Playoffs 2012: Why New York Rangers Coach John Tortorella Needs to Step Up
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Ranger's Head Coach John Tortorella needs to reassert himself in the locker room

John Tortorella, the Rangers' head coach in his fourth season, was asked why coaches are so secretive during the NHL playoffs.

“I don’t want to tell you,” replied Tortorella, whose reputation with the media has earned him notoriety.

After Kyle Turris’ overtime goal in Game 4 evened up the series at 2-2, the Rangers missed out on an opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 lead back to Madison Square Garden for Game 5,.

Despite the loss, Tortorella praised his team for their play in the third period, calling it “our best period since the first game.”

It is puzzling as to why Tortorella has softened up on his team after a game where they were thoroughly outplayed for much for the night.

Ottawa played more physical, won more faceoffs and attempted a staggering 85 shots to New York’s measly 49. The fact that the Rangers blocked 30 of them is impressive, but also indicated just how sloppy they played in the defensive zone.

Tortorella needs to regain the ferocity and callousness that he showed throughout the regular season. His demeanor in these past few games has seemed passive, and him praising his team following a loss is even more out of character.

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Another issue that Tortorella needs to address is his team’s inability to hold a lead. In both of New York’s losses, Ottawa overcame deficits to eventually win in overtime, largely due to the Rangers retreating into a defensive shell.

In Game 4, it seemed as if the Rangers were comfortable with a two-goal lead, and they devoted the rest of the game to trying to prevent scoring instead of trying to generate more scoring opportunities.

If Tortorella had emphasized to his team that they needed to continue their offensive pressure, Ranger fans might not be so nervous for the decisive Game 5 on Saturday night.

There is no denying that John Tortorella has found success behind the bench. He has more wins than any American-born NHL coach, and he led the Tampa Bay Lightning to their first Stanley Cup in 2004, but his quest to return the Stanley Cup to New York has stalled.

If Tortorella wants to lead the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup title since 1994, he needs to reassert himself in the locker room and ensure that the Rangers offense doesn’t become complacent when they have a lead.

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