Tortorella treads lightly on 'Cup' talk

Rangers head coach John Tortorella doesn't want people

Rangers head coach John Tortorella doesn't want people talking about a possible Stanley Cup title. (undated file photo) (Credit: AP)

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- For now, all is quiet on the Rangers front, as long as no one mentions the words Stanley Cup.

A day after Cablevision chairman James Dolan publicly praised general manager Glen Sather and said he believed that the Rangers were close to their first Cup since 1994 -- a suggestion that made John Tortorella cringe and default to his wait-and-see mode with some colorful language tossed in -- the coach tried to explain his feelings.

"Mr. Dolan, Glen, the coaching staff, we're always communicating," Tortorella said Wednesday after practice. "We're all in it together. I think he expressed last night that he likes where it's going and that's a good thing. And he totally understands also that it is a process, that's the biggest thing. I liked his emotion last night as far as being with us and supporting us. He's part of that."

But Tortorella stressed that the 82-game regular season is a little more than half over. "Again it's what, 44 games?" he said. "Do we have it all figured out? No. I don't know what we are. We don't know what we are. It's impossible. We're striving to play to our identity."

And changes are coming.

After the All-Star break, some players will be headed to the minors. There are a surplus of defensemen, and although two forwards already have been sent to the AHL -- Erik Christensen and Sean Avery -- spare forward Wojtek Wolski could be on the move as well. "He needs to stay here . . . for now," Tortorella said. "Guys are banged up."

Defensemen Michael Sauer (concussion), Steve Eminger (shoulder) and Jeff Woywitka (bruised foot) skated for the second straight day, but Tortorella acknowledged that a stint with AHL Connecticut wouldn't be a bad thing to get back in game shape.

Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto and Marc Staal aren't going anywhere, which means jobs are on the line for Stu Bickel and Anton Stralman. Stralman and Woywitka were acquired as depth defensemen while Staal was out with a concussion.

Changing lines. Brandon Prust will replace Ryan Callahan on a line with Brad Richards and Brandon Dubinsky Thursday night against the Penguins, who have won three straight. Callahan will skate with Brian Boyle and Ruslan Fedotenko.

The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Rangers, MSG and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.

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