The New York Rangers saw their seven-game winning streak go up in smoke on Saturday, losing to the Montreal Canadians 4-0. The Rangers looked flat, sluggish, and all around not ready to play Saturday, and it showed on the scoreboard.
But who is to blame for this? Certainly the players take some of the fault, looking like a totally different team than they had the previous seven games, unable to get good shots off or control the puck in the Canadians' zone. They had a weak performance by goalie Martin Biron, a weak penalty kill and even weaker power play.
However, there is someone else to blame for the Rangers poor play on Saturday, who I believe has been the main cause of their problems for the last few years, and that is coach John Tortorella. I feel that Tortorella over-manages the team at times and causes a lack of chemistry between the Rangers' lines.
Take this seven-game winning streak and recent loss to the Canadians. The line of Amnisimov, Gaborik, and Stepan consistently scored game in and game out for the Rangers at the beginning of the winning streak, but towards the end of the streak and the Canadians game, the line was not even together.
He also decided to change up the defensive lines that carried the Rangers through their seven-game win streak. One bad period, and Tortorella changed up the Girardi defensive pair and it only affected the Rangers worse.
He cannot completely change everything every time the Rangers have a bad period. They will never be able to get the chemistry that they need in order to play effectively over the course of a year; it might work for a few games (in this case seven), but not in the long run.
The power play is a perfect example of this. A Rangers power play is the equivalent to watching paint dry: pass, pass, pass, deflected shot, cleared, power play over.
Who is the one that runs the Rangers' plays and decides how they are going to perform day in and day out? John Tortorella; once again showing his inability to effectively coach a team, and more importantly the Rangers power play, which has not been effective in years.
Tortorella feels the need to tweak his lines after every game, even if they are working. At times it works, putting Dubinsky on a lower line to get him scoring chances and Boyle higher to up his playing ability, but most of the time it leaves Ranger fans scratching their heads and wondering what he is doing.
He even over-manages his goalies. Both Henrik Lundqvist and Marin Biron are having spectacular seasons between the pipes, but Lundqvist is the obvious number one. Even so, John Tortorella decided to put Biron in goal on Saturday against the Canadians.
His reasoning behind this was due to Lundqvist's previous poor play in Montreal and Biron having a large amount of rest since his last start. However, the Rangers had three days between their game with the Canadians and their game with the New York Islanders the Tuesday before; Lundqvist was well rested, and should have been between the pipes on Saturday and not Biron.
This and many other examples throughout both this year and last show Tortorella's poor management of the Rangers and how that negatively affects them. The players change, but the coach has not.
Tortorella cannot say he has nothing to work with. By acquiring Brad Richards in the offseason, the Rangers have established a solid offensive attack that still cannot seem to find a way to score. The only person that has not changed is the coach, John Tortorella. A much needed change has to come to the coaching staff in order for the Rangers to truly prosper this year and beyond.