When the Rangers hired John Tortorella in February, Tortorella promised his team was going to take off under his forechecking system. They sputtered offensively in the first few weeks of his tenure, but they were good enough to make the playoffs after playing well in the final weeks of the season.
They almost upset the Capitals in the playoffs until the head coach lacked self-control in Game 5 by going after the fans in the stands. The league suspended Tortorella for Game 6, and the coach's behavior provided a spark for the Caps to win the last two games of the series that helped them advanced to the next round.
The Rangers believed a training camp would get the players to adapt to Tortorella's style of play, but that hasn't been the case. They started off well in October, but since then, they sputtered offensively, and the losses showed up as a result of their struggles.
The Blueshirts played the Islanders tonight at Madison Square Garden in a home-to-home series that ends tomorrow night at Nassau Coliseum.
Nothing changed for them in this contest. Their goaltender kept his team in the game yet the team failed to support him with goals.
The Islanders threw pucks at Henrik Lundqvist for the first two periods of the game, and they created many scoring chances that could have been 3-0 late in the second period, but Lundqvist made some saves that featured a save of Frans Neilsen's attempted shorthand goal.
It's not like the Islanders are an offensive juggernaut so the Rangers could have tied the game if they generated offense in the Islanders zone to start the third period, but nothing worked for them.
The Islanders took a 2-0 lead with 4:50 remaining in the game and by then it was a lost cause for the Rangers. The Rangers scored a meaningless goal late when the game was decided.
Typical Rangers. They find ways to outsmart themselves yet they start to play well when the game was about to be over.
That's the team we seen overall under Tortorella. In other words, it's no different than it was under Tom Renney.
The bombastic Rangers head coach indirectly called out Renney in September for not properly conditioning his players when he talked about why the team struggled offensively, but looking back, it's time to realize this team does not have the players to win games in the regular season and in the postseason.
Outside of Marian Gaborik, no Ranger scares the other team when it comes to scoring.
It's like these guys just pass instead of shooting the puck and when they shoot the puck, it hits the crease or the goal posts. We saw several Rangers hit the goal post in the second period tonight.
The Rangers failed to dictate the tempo from start to finish. That's not what Tortorella likes to see.
Where is Barry Beck when we need him? He would be rolling over his grave seeing this show every night.
Chris Drury, Vinny Prospal, Brandon Dubinsky and Chris Higgins were supposed to be guys that would flourish under Tortorella's system, but that hasn't been the case.
Drury has scored only two goals this season, and has none in 19 games.
Prospal started off well, but since then, has scored zero goals in 11 games.
Dubinsky played like he has been a bust after signing a long-term extension.
Higgins has not made everyone forget Scott Gomez. Higgins provided a blooper in the second period against the Islanders when he looked like he was going to score yet he lost track of puck, and then the Rangers committed a penalty that gave the Islanders another power play.
Higgins' play symbolizes the ineptitude of this team right there.
One wonders if it's going to get better. Tortorella and the players can talk about how they are work in progress, and how it's all about will, but at some point, they have to realize they are not good.
One senses Tortorella acts like a beaten man in press conferences. Besides his press conference after the game, he does not have the strength to go scream and call out his players.
He realizes there's no point of doing that with him having nothing to work with.
This team played mediocre in recent years because they don't have a legitimate playmaker.
They will be in the playoff race all year since the Eastern Conference is nothing special, but it's hard to think they will do much in the playoffs.
It's a shame to see this team charge ridiculous prices for tickets when the product is boring to watch whether it's at the game or on the TV set.
With what's going on, it's no wonder why the Rangers are irrelevant in this market when it comes to the sports chain here.