It’s only three games into the season, but we’re already seeing differences between last year’s Rangers team and this season’s version. A (relatively) new coach and an overhauled roster will do that.
Here are seven contrasts between the Tom Renney 2008-09 Blueshirts and John Tortorella’s 2009-10 edition.
1. Only one minute and 24 seconds into Monday’s game against the Devils, Tortorella called a timeout and ripped his team a new one—and the players actually responded by going out, working hard, and winning the game. Renney would have politely implored his players to at least act like they were trying and then been just as politely ignored, resulting in a 6-1 shellacking.
2. The safe, boring, sit-back-and-wait-for-bad-things-to-happen style of Renney is gone, and when the aggressive, all-hands-on-deck attacking mode that Tortorella favors isn’t working that night, the team is showing it can adapt, like they did in New Jersey, settling into a blue-collar battling approach.
3. The defensemen are scoring. Last year the D couldn’t score if they were the only players on the ice, but so far, with the additions of Michael Del Zotto and Matt Gilroy, the blueliners are making a big contribution on offense.
4. This year’s power play is looking different. It’s only produced goals in one game, but it sure seems different. With so many new players playing on the man advantage, they don’t have last year’s failures and bad habits weighing them down. They also have Marian Gaborik and new point men that can make a big difference.
5. They have a world-class offensive talent in Gaborik. They had nothing that resembled him last season. His skill, shooting, and puck movement are a sight for sore eyes.
6. Tortorella’s not going to roll out four lines. Renney rotated all four lines religiously last year (and in his defense, his fourth line was often the best one on the ice). Tortorella’s going to give his top players the most ice time. But when the fourth line is needed, they’ll be fresh, as they were when they played a lot of minutes during the last part of the Devils game.
7. Playing time will be cut if the performance isn’t there. Del Zotto and Gilroy sat on the bench for most of the last half of Saturday’s game, with the Rangers only going with four D-men. There was no accountability last season with Renney.