Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.
Tortorella on tomorrow's game, training camp and tapeBefore the Rangers flew to Washington this afternoon----there was some debate about going by train----a fairly relaxed head coach John Tortorella answered some questions:
On Sunday’s final pre-season game, during which G Henrik Lundqvist will play the entire contest: “I thought our last home game was a pretty important game for us ( looking ahead to the opener). Dru's gonna be in our lineup, (but) he's not gonna play (Sunday), Gilroy has made a really good push to be in our lineup, he's not playing tomorrow. Tomorrow night's lineup isn't going to be the exact lineup we're gonna have opening night. We've gotta wait on Sean and stuff like that.”
Areas he will watch: “The center ice position, Boyle (with Donald Brashear and Aaron Voros) and Anisimov (who will play on the third line with Evgeny Grachev and Ales Kotalik). I’m gonna look at line combinations, maybe Prospal (starting at center with Enver Lisin and Ryan Callahan) a little on left wing. I want to look at Del Zotto on the point on the power play.” Brandon Dubinsky will center Chris Higgins and Marian Gaborik.
On camp to his point: “I think our conditioning is there. I’m happy with the way it’s gone.” Although there were five games in a week, “we got our skates in. I like it (conditioning) really front-loaded, and it hurt us in some of the games. I was more concerned about the conditioning part rather than have them fresh for those games…We've covered quite a bit of the team concept during tape. We'll do a lot of tape at the beginning of the year, but once you get to late November and December, we feel it should become almost an instinct. I like using the immediate game we played, I don't get it too convoluted going way back. Our tape work is about us, not about the other teams.”
When he began his coaching career, Tortorella said, "I gave (players) way too much...When you first start as a coach you want to leave the rink saying to yourself, "I have them as prepared as I possibly can," but when you overprepare, they lose their instincts, you turn them into robots. As you go through, you learn from players, I've had many players come to me and say “It's just too much.” You've got to be really careful.”
The schedule is taxing early. “Once the season starts, I look for time to rest, because of the three-in-four and four-in-six. The first month we’ll have more pre-game skates; after the first three or four weeks, those will be optional. Those are so overrated. Sometimes I like using the pregame skates so I can give them a day off before.” ***
On his relationship with assistant coach Mike Sullivan, who worked with him in Tampa: “He has a lot of thoughts and he's a very bright man. I know exactly what the other team's going to do. We just have to decide how much we're gonna give to the players and Sully---I shouldn’t just pick on him, we laugh about it now---he's changed; instead of his tape being so long, he's cut back. I asked him how long his tape's gonna be for tomorrow and he laughed and said, ‘I've got to cut it back.’ It's a good trait to have, but you don't want to overload."
Tags: John Tortorella