What John Tortorella Must Do for the New York Rangers to Win Big in 2013

Ben Lippel@thewritebenContributor IIISeptember 9, 2012

What John Tortorella Must Do for the New York Rangers to Win Big in 2013

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    "I love our jam, I love our balls. I really like what we have here."

    John Tortorella has a way with words.


    He also has a way with his players and will have to do an even better coaching job this season, if the New York Rangers will have a chance to win their first Stanley Cup championship since 1994.

    Last season was an outstanding one, as the Blueshirts compiled a 51-24-7 record and went deep into the springtime, only to lose to the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals.


    But certainly not good enough.

    The Rangers fiery front man, who coached the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Cup in 2004, knows that in order for his team to get to the next level, to win the six more playoff games necessary to hoist the hardware, the players must raise their collective games. Here's his take:

    “Our team had a great season last year. But to be considered a great organization, you have to do it again and again. That's the difficult thing. To be considered a great organization, we still have some steps to go.”

    And that includes Tortorella. So what must he do, in order to help the Blueshirts take those steps? There are six big things in particular. Read on to find out what they are.

    Quotes from Torts used in this article courtesy of:






He Must Push His Players to Maximize Their Performance

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    "Going into training camp, I want the players to realize how close they came. But sometimes you have to get kicked in the teeth before you make it to the top."

    The Rangers sure did get kicked in the teeth by their arch rivals from New Jersey in last season's playoffs. But that bitter disappointment can lead to a better result, if Tortorella can get his key guys to deliver key performances. 

    Players such as Derek Stepan, Michael Del Zotto and Chris Kreider must continue to improve.

    Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Rick Nash must up the big numbers they're accustomed to.

    Marc Staal must be able to get back to his All-Star self.

    And Tortorella realizes it:

    "We still have to find a way to win another round and get there. I don’t want this organization to sit still."

    You can bet he'll make sure they won't.

    Up Next: Getting the best net results. 


He Must Ensure That the King Gets His Royal Rest

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    “I don't care how it looked. It's about finding a way and it starts with your goaltending giving you a chance.” 

    John Tortorella knows that with all-world Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes, he always has a chance.

    But the King must also get sufficient rest during the regular season, in order to be fresh for the playoffs.

    That's where having a big-time backup comes in handy. Enter Martin Biron.

    Tortorella must call upon No. 43 to put up the numbers he did last season, when the valuable veteran went 12-6-2 with a 2.46 goals against average and two shutouts. 

    The coach must ensure that more of the same...if not better, happens this season.

    That's how to get net results.

    Up Next: Not everyone should be invited to the block party

He Must Keep Key Players out of Harm's Way

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    "We have to change our mindset to continue to be the best." 

    The Rangers are known through the NHL as a tough-as-nails, shot-blocking squad that will do whatever it takes to get two points.

    That won't change.

    However, Tortorella's mindset must change when it comes to players such as Marian Gaborik and Rick Nash. They are invaluable components to the club that are not necessarily known for their propensity to get into the lanes and throw their bodies in front of blistering slap shots.

    And that's okay, because of their other contributions to the cause. Tortorella must be flexible enough in his approach to the game to realize that these assets will be of no value to him if they're broken.

    Up Next: How to avoid a D-Lemma 

He Must Manage Back-Line Ice Time More Efficiently

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    "What I liked was the maturing of our guys. They grew as we went along and all these things fast-tracked us to the playoffs where they experienced winning, losing -- and in the end, it all made them better."

    What can make the Rangers better this season is Tortorella managing the ice time of his defensemen, most notably Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi.

    Tortorella must not overwork these two players, so they have plenty left in their tanks come playoff time. Both McDonagh and Girardi looked absolutely exhausted in the Devils series.

    Plus, he must ensure that Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto share the workload, and that he can count on Anton Stralman and Stu Bickel to provide meaningful minutes as part of a third blue-line pair.

    All of this can solve a potential D-Lemma. 

    Up Next: The bottom line on the bottom lines 

He Must Get His Bottom-Six Forwards to Produce More

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    "Granted, we lost some size and hardness when Duby (Brandon Dubinsky) and Prusty (Brandon Prust) left, but we've made up for that with our additions (Arron Asham, Taylor Pyatt and Jeff Halpern). With these guys we're going to play a hard, straight-ahead game."

    A straight-ahead game is fine.

    But Tortorella must also straighten out an area where the Rangers sorely lacked last season. And that's getting production from his third and fourth lines.

    The aforementioned newcomers will play vital roles here. But so will players from last season's squad. Most notably Mike Rupp. And the head coach thinks that No. 71 will have a bounce-back year. Here's what Tortorella had to say about the big forward:

    "Rupp will have a much better year. He needs to be on the ice for nine, 10, 11 minutes a game and I've got to find him that playing time."

    You do indeed, coach.

    Up Next: Youth must be served.

He Must Continue the Youth Movement

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    "Glen (Rangers General Manager Glen Sather) did a terrific job keeping our youthful foundation intact. We didn't want to dismantle the good things we built and we didn't." 

    In this particular instance, Tortorella was referring to the July blockbuster deal that brought Rick Nash to Broadway.

    The Columbus Blue Jackets wanted Chris Kreider.

    No sale. 

    Christian Thomas, J.T. Miller and Dylan McIrath were also part of the discussions between the two teams.

    Sather wouldn't have any part of it.

    So now, the Rangers have the young power forward Kreider as a mainstay in their lineup. And top-level prospects that are waiting in the wings for their turns on 7th Avenue.

    Tortorella wouldn't have it any other way.

    Up Next: The Bonus Slide - It wouldn't be Torts without it.

He Must Be True to Himself

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    I thought we were ready to play. But we looked surprised that there was another team on ice.

    Not good.

    These are the types of quotes that can send shivers up and down the spines of every player on the Rangers roster.


    It's pretty simple. Tortorella will tear into them for any sort of performance he deems unsatisfactory. He demands that they give their best efforts game in and game out. When they don't, he can peel the paint off the walls in the dressing room.

    Case in point, the video included here: an excerpt from last season's HBO 24/7 Flyers/Rangers series.

    The coach gets his message across in the only way he can. It's vintage Torts. And it makes him the right coach at the right time for the Blueshirts.

    Just make sure there are no little kids around when you play it.