Tortorella's attacking style is paying off
GalleriesOct. 12: Rangers 7, Maple Leafs 2
These are not your same old Rangers. Not Tom Renney's Rangers, that's for sure.
Renney was a good coach who tried most times to play it safe with a lead.
So his Rangers waited for a mistake, waited for the counterattack and won games that were done with safety as the utmost principle.
John Tortorella, as we've learned, does not like the safe way.
He turned Renney's safety-first squad into the team you see now, a team on a five-game winning streak that closes games by stepping on opponents' throats instead of waiting for a chance.
The Rangers are making teams, inferior teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, make mistakes. This is not only working, but hey, it's fun to watch. The Rangers scored four in the third period last night to seize a 3-2 game and turn it into a 7-2 rout of a winless Toronto squad.
Pair that with Sunday's three-goal third to break open a scoreless game with the Ducks, and the Rangers have fueled this streak by being more aggressive in the final 20 minutes, with the strength and conditioning to get it done.
They've outscored opponents 12-3 in the third period this season; they were outscored 77-68 in the third last season.
"We came from playing a good team [Sunday] to a team that hadn't won a game. It's just up to us to not take an easy night," said Vinny Prospal, who had two more assists for a team-high six. Not bad for $1.05 million. "When you're up 3-2, you don't stop playing. You go and get the fourth goal, and try to get more."
And that is refreshing. Renney led the Rangers out of seven straight seasons of non-playoff misery before the lockout by preaching discipline, preaching attention to detail and preaching defense first.
He was what the Rangers needed then. Tortorella and his aggressive approach is what's needed now, to try and take that next step for a franchise that became stuck.
And, after letting the Leafs off the mat to get within a goal after 40 minutes, the Rangers came out unafraid. That's the key here, that everyone from 19-year-old Michael Del Zotto on up to 37-year-old Donald Brashear plays without fear of making a mistake.
"We just wanted to get back on the attack," Tortorella said. "I don't know what it is, but we had another good third period. That's good news."
They did have it at the expense of a Leafs team that looks worse than any other team in the league, but that's also a key. The Rangers have had teams the past three seasons that could have buried clubs with offense, but they played patient instead at times and let teams off the mat.
It doesn't mean they're playing stupid now. They have the horses to keep coming at teams, and Tortorella's boot camp/training camp seems to be paying off.
"The coaches kept barking it all camp, 'It's worth it, it's worth it,' " Chris Drury said.
So far, it is worth it. And worth watching a team that has put away the caution signs.