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Tortorella failed to make adjustments
The best coaches in any sport have a basic system, but they are able to make adjustments to that system to best fit the talent on their roster.
Whether it's trades, injuries or rule changes, when the situation changes, great coaches make adjustments.
Look at Don Shula, the NFL's all-time leader in wins. Shula won two Super Bowls in the early 1970s by pounding the football on the ground with Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris. The Dolphins threw a total of just seven passes in Super Bowl VIII, which they won 24-7.
A decade later, the NFL introduced rules changes that encouraged the passing game. Shula also had Dan Marino at quarterback, one of the greatest passers of all time. As a result, Shula changed the way he ran his offense, and the Dolphins reached Super Bowl XIX with a team that threw the ball a lot more than it ran.
Tortorella has not shown a similar ability to adjust his team's style of play. The defense-first system he employed worked better in the "Dead Puck Era." That ended in 2004 when his Lightning club won the Stanley Cup.
Last season, Tortorella had a roster that was better suited to his close-to-the-vest style. The Rangers finished first in the conference and reached the third round of the playoffs.
During the offseason, the Rangers lost Brandon Prust to free agency and traded Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky to Columbus for Rick Nash. His team had more firepower in Nash, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, but a little less grit.
Instead of adjusting his style of play to his new roster, Torts stuck to the one way he likes to do things. The result was a slow start to the season for the Rangers, who were in danger of missing the playoffs altogether.
At the trade deadline, the Rangers dealt Gaborik to the Blue Jackets and acquired Ryane Clowe from San Jose in an attempt to get Tortorella a roster more to his liking. It worked in the short term, but injuries to Clowe and defenseman Marc Staal didn't help, and the Rangers were easily eliminated by Boston in the second round.