The Rangers went back to their winning formula last night and shutout the Nashville Predators 3-0 at the Garden. It was a royal, vintage Henrik Lundqvist performance in net, helped by a swarming Rangers defense that limited the Predators' opportunities.
I found the game boring, but that is now part of the grand game plan. Keep the puck along the boards in both ends and tenaciously fighting for possession is the tactical mission statement. The longer it stays in the offensive zone the better, if shot opportunities happen to come along, take them. In the defensive end keep the puck away from Lundqvist and at worst limit the other team to one bad angle shot on the King. Simple. And last night the Blueshirts executed their Tortorella "ground and pound" game plan to perfection.
If Torts could have his way, I bet every Rangers game would look like last night. And if Boyle and Prust could sit on the puck their entire shift Torts would be giving them 35 minutes a night. It was an almost flawless execution of a prevent defense and a three yards and a cloud of dust offense. Legendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes would have loved last night's game. Woody's philosophy was, "I will pound you and pound you until you quit."
The fact, that the scoring all came from unexpected sources (Girardi and Mitchell) makes the win even sweeter in the Tortorella playbook. Keeping your top-lines hungry and humble, yet still winning, means you'll get even more out of them the next game. Is this genius or evil genius?
If one thing, John Tortorella is also consistent in his disagreeability. His zinger back at his ultimate boss, MSG Chairman James Dolan, after the game was a classic from the grump-meister. After the game Dolan had said the Rangers were “pretty close” to winning a Stanley Cup. So afer Dolan had left the room Torts quickly had to nip that kind of talk in the bud:
“Like I have my owner up here talking about a Stanley Cup. That’s a bunch of bull----. We need to take one game at a time.”Perfect. We like nothing better than seeing the invisible one getting slapped down by his hired help. Tortorella knows that the life expectancy of an NHL coach is slightly longer than a Monarch Butterfly. So part of the job description is keeping team expectations low and the employment status on affirmative. Mr. One-Round and Out knows that he better deliver at least two rounds this year or he sleeps with the butterflies.
The Scoring Summary:
Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi has received a string of accolades for his stellar play so far this season, not the least of which was his selection to play in the NHL All Star Game next week in Ottawa. However, one accolade had eluded him: the Broadway Hat.
Well check that one off the list as Girardi received the Broadway Hat following the Rangers 3-0 win over the Nashville Predators Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Girardi logged 25:48 worth of ice-time Tuesday night and finished a +3, on ice for all three Rangers' goals...
"I think the difference between this year's team and years past is that our resilience this year has been unbelievable," said Girardi following the game. "We have a bad game here or there, but we come right back with a huge win. Obviously Montreal (Sunday night) was not good, but it was a blip on our schedule, that's how we look at that game because of how we answered that tonight. It says a lot about our team."