Tortorella says Rangers didn't have right mind-set against Bruins
GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Perceptions vary, but a theme emerged Monday when the Rangers and their coach assessed a shortened season that finished on a bitter note.
Henrik Lundqvist, the team's MVP, who will be in the final year of his contract before he is eligible for free agency, called it a "step back." Captain Ryan Callahan said the Rangers "underachieved." And after battling to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals in 2012, John Tortorella called this season "a sideways step."
Are there offseason issues? You bet.
A disappointed Lundqvist, who watched another stellar season on his part go by without reaching the Stanley Cup Finals, didn't exactly leap at the possibility of a long-term extension, taking a businesslike approach. "I've had such a great time here in New York," he said. "Right now, I'm just trying to get over this year, but we'll see. I'll talk to my agent and we'll go from there."
Tortorella said the roster "needs some depth" and that "we need to be a stiffer team throughout." The coach also conceded that the power play was so weak, in the end, "I was trying to manage just the confidence of it. Forget about the X's and O's, just them feeling good about themselves. The biggest thing was coaching their mind-set because you could see how uptight they were.
"We played really well our last couple months to get in, found a way to win a big series against Washington. One of the things, and it falls on my shoulders, is our team mind-set going into another round [vs. Boston], after both teams played an emotional Game 7. I don't think our mind-set was ready for another series to the level you need to be at."
"That's what I struggle with right now is I didn't do a good enough job in correcting that and getting their mind-set back to not only play the level of a Game 7 in the first round but get ready for [the second round], which is always going to be tougher."
Tortorella said he didn't want to rate players, but he presumably has, and will make his case at organizational meetings in late June.
"The team is going to change,'' he said. "I can't comment on the team that's here because I'm not sure if it's going to be the team that's [here] next year."
General manager Glen Sather wasn't available, but decisions on Richards and Lundqvist top the discussion list, as well as negotiations with restricted free agents Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello, all of whom want to be back. "I want my career to end here," said third-year center Stepan, who led the team in scoring.
After his first year on Broadway, Rick Nash again insisted he is healthy, described his one-goal playoff performance as "good" and called it "one of the most fun seasons of my career by far."
Boyle, who said he should have played somewhere during the lockout, was blunt. "I let myself down, I let my teammates down, this organization, my family," he said. "It was upsetting."
Some players -- such as defenseman Michael Del Zotto, whose game slipped at both ends of the ice -- simply avoided the media.
Perhaps the most upbeat Rangers were the newest: defenseman John Moore and center Derick Brassard, who arrived from the Blue Jackets on April 3. "I felt like in Columbus, my passion and the emotion in my game was gone," Brassard said. "When I got traded, I honestly felt so good inside to be here and have a new start. You play with emotion, you're going to play well every night."
It's clear some other Rangers will need a rebirth, too.