SAN JOSE---The Orchard Supply Hardware sign that the Rangers skated past at the public rink here offered advice: “The answers are out there. We’ll help you find them.”
But on the afternoon following Wednesday’s turnover-filled, 5-2 waxing by the Anaheim Ducks, players said they needed to look in the mirror, not seek any outside assistance, to find the answers in order to bounce back from such an ominous defeat after two days off in Southern California.
How did their intensity vanish in a game critical to their playoff hopes? How did they cough up the puck so often to the Ducks sharpshooters? Why couldn’t they get the puck out of their zone? Can they turn it around Saturday against the Sharks?
“We will discuss it, for sure,” veteran Vinny Prospal, who still seemed angry about the loss, said after drills that featured pitched battles along the walls inside the blue line and bodies crashing to the ice. “You can lose in different ways, but the way we lost, at this time of year…we should be the ones responsible, we should be better. We have to make sure that we have a different work ethic and desire to play the next game.” Asked what assurances he had that the Blueshirts could recover from such a discouraging defeat, Prospal said: “We always have.”
After watching video of the loss, Rangers coach John Tortorella found no silver lining except this: “We have another game coming up in two days…today was a lot of defensive zone coverage. We played a bad game. We haven’t had many of those this year at all. We need to make some corrections, we need to bring some things to their attention, forget about that game and move on to the next one.”
Several players, including Brian Boyle, who limped away with an ugly bruise after taking a slap shot off his thigh, said the intensity displayed at practice was a “good step.”
Tortorella scheduled another practice for this morning, and did not discuss any lineup changes---yet. Henrik Lundqvist will start his 14th consecutive game against the Sharks, but Tortorella could dress center Erik Christensen or defenseman Steve Eminger, who were healthy scratches for the last two games.
“My situation means nothing; it’s about the team,” said Christensen. “We all want to make the playoffs. Today I was working as hard as I can in case I’m back in the lineup. I want to be around the team. I’m trying to encourage the guys before the game. I’m not sitting around saying, ‘woe is me’ ’’ Clinging to a playoff spot with 13 games left in the season, his teammates can’t afford that sentiment either.
Tortorella said he had not seen Zdeno Chara's hit on Max Pacioretty that has triggered a police investigation and Air Canada threatening to pull its NHL sponsorship and declined to comment. He has seems players injured ---not on dirty plays-- from hitting the stanchions.
He did discuss his feelings on the loss of respect among players. "Some of the rule changes have provided some people the chance to disrespect people. It goes on, and I still think it needs to be addressed. No one wants to see players hurt, there still needs to be some sort of honor and honesty in our game..."
"The instigator, I think is just a lousy rule, but it's not just that, I just think our game has gone that way because we have not allowed the players to police themselves. To me that's the bottom line. Players need to police themselves on the ice, not the rules, not supplementary discipline and all that, that's where I think we've lost honestly. Call me an old ---- if you want, it's wrong."
As for impacts with the stanchions, he said: "I've seen it happen quite a bit over the years....