John Tortorella rewarded for his faith in the Rangers
On the eve of the latest Game 7 of his Rangers coaching tenure, John Tortorella was asked if there was anything more he could say to his players.
"If I'm a player, I want to play right away," he said. "They don't want to listen to coaches this time of year. They don't want to look at video. They want to play the games and find out where they're at."
It was an honest answer from a coach who made national headlines during last season's playoffs with his painfully short media sessions. Timing them -- in seconds, not minutes -- became a mild Internet sensation.
This year, while he has been as feisty as ever, Tortorella has actually spent a lot more time in the interview room -- minutes, not just seconds. And when in there, he has maintained one theme about his Rangers team that didn't change from Game 1 to 7 of an entertaining first-round series against the Capitals:
"I believe in my guys."
Tortorella's faith paid off when the Rangers blitzed the Capitals, 5-0, on Monday night in Washington to win the series after falling behind 0-2. They will face the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals beginning Thursday in Boston.
Tortorella tinkered during the series -- Brian Boyle in when healthy, Chris Kreider in and out of the lineup, deploying Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi to control Alex Ovechkin -- but for the most part he has stayed as consistent with his coaching as he has with his message.
That may be frustrating for Rangers fans who would have liked to have seen more of Kreider, last year's postseason sensation who assisted on Arron Asham's first-period goal that gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead on Monday.
Asked before Game 7 if he has had doubts about his team during the series, Tortorella said: "No. Not a chance. Have you? I haven't read any of your stuff."
Tortorella is tough on reporters, but he has not criticized his players after losses. He has refused to entertain questions about injuries or lineups, thinking that gives the opponent an advantage.
He refused to publicly analyze why the Rangers' power play struggled during the series, saying that "doesn't do any good."
Tortorella cherishes every advantage -- perceived or real -- that he can get in the playoffs.
Tortorella has been willing to criticize himself, as he did following Sunday's 1-0 victory in Game 6 at the Garden.
"I think I hurt us a little bit in Washington [in Game 5]," he said. "I don't think I used the full bench enough. And for us to sustain a forecheck and to sustain some territory, we needed bodies."
Finally, reporters were told Tortorella would answer "one more question." It was whether the coach was worried about his offense going into Game 7.
"No," he said before walking away and adding, "One too many."