Sunday, April 24, 2011

Rangers Extend Tortorella Three Years

According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the New York Rangers have extended the contract of head coach John Tortorella for three more seasons.  Originally Tortorella was to have his contract expire after this season.  There are positives and negatives to Tortorella, like any coach, but the job he has did this year certainly earned him more time at the helm.   

The 2010-11 Rangers overachieved as they continued the transition from the old way of buying big names to growing our own players into NHL pieces with the final goal to be building a championship contender.  I am not sure that Tortorella will be the guy that ultimately takes them to the final level, but for now he is showing that he can get the most out of some inferior pieces.  Now the challenge will be to meet the rising expectation levels the team will face next year or he will quickly go from coach helping a team overachieve to a coach that has us continually battling for 8th to either miss the playoffs or leave early.

Pride In What Rangers Accomplished Outweighs Disappointment of Season Ending

It is now the morning after the New York Rangers season has ended and while it is too early for reflection on the season as a whole, there can be some on the series that just ended against the Washington Capitals.  The pain of the loss is still there, but so is the pride of how the team played as a whole and knowing how close they were to making it a much different series.  The final series score is not indicative of how close this series was from game to game.  The Rangers certainly had their chances to have this be a completely different series, but in the end it was a 4-1 series defeat.  Within games this team showed the grit and determination they made us proud with all season long.  The reality of it is that they just are not there yet, but it is coming.

This year was always about the future instead of the now and this series showed that not only to be true, but gave many of the Rangers’ young players a taste of what playoff hockey is like.  There is no way to quantify what a tough series like the Rangers just played does for the development of Stepan, Sauer, McDonagh, Anisimov in their growth as NHL players.  Possibly the most impressive thing about the team in the series is that the young players played much like they did in the regular season and were not consumed by the stage.  That alone speaks volumes about them and why there is so much hope for the future.

The season and the series also showed holes in the process of building this team into a legitimate contender to hoist the Stanley Cup.  The Rangers lack of elite skill offensively is not something they let derail them during the regular year, but it was clearly a factor in this series. The Capitals had their best players contribute and the Rangers got little from their supposed game changing forward; Marian Gaborik.  The process will move on and the Rangers young players will continue to get better, and the organization will either have to hope some of the players that were here like Stepan, Anisimov, Callahan and Dubinsky turn into game changers or they will have to add some to the core they have.

The day after the season ends is never one of happiness for the team or the fans, but for the first time since in many years there can be a sense of satisfaction in the season the team put together and hope for the future with this group.  A team that was in transition and a question mark to even make the playoffs incorporated rookies into key positions and they all established themselves as legitimate NHL contributors.  To fight through all the injuries they had and the lack of elite talent on the roster while making the playoffs and pushing the Capitals is an accomplishment beyond what I expected for this team coming into the year.  It was there heart and determination that led them to overachieve, and when you have a team that plays that way, everyone can get behind them because they respect how they go about their business.

The rebuilding process is still going and the movement to homegrown Rangers is far from done with the prospects yet to come.  If the fans have patience this will continue to be a team that is worthy of their support and the reward will be them coming out on the other side of a series like this down the road.

Video: Tim Thomas Saves Bruins With Phenomenal Pad Save on Gionta

The headlines will show Nathan Horton as having scored the game-winning goal in the second overtime, but if not for this phenomenal pad save by goalie Tim Thomas the game would have been over before Horton ever got the chance.  The save was indicative of how Tim Thomas plays goalie in that he was extremely aggressive on the odd-man rush and then he had to battle to get back to stone Brian Gionta.