For the defending Eastern Conference points leaders (at least in the regular season), and a team that was supposed to be a Cup contender after bringing in one of the league’s top snipers in Rick Nash, the New York Rangers hovering in and around the 8th and final playoff spot has to be angering the Rangers’ faithful as well as their management.
Could last night’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets be the final straw? The Rangers have lost 6 in a row, and are in a pack that have been separated from the 7th seed by 5 points now, which in a shortened season could be a steep hill to climb. In fact, they are closer to last (3 points) than they are to 7th (5 points) in the Eastern Conference. That is a far cry from the 109 point season the Rangers posted last year.
Management did what they felt the needed to do by bringing in yet another all-star in Nash, providing John Tortorella with another offensive weapon to use while they waited for Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller to mature into full fledged NHLers. They had the Vezina winning goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist, and a rock solid defensive corps. Scoring was the major roadblock, and that was addressed with the addition of Nash.
The Rangers have had some injury woes this season, but looking at some of the teams ahead of them in the standings (Ottawa and Toronto to name two), they cannot use that as an excuse.
That leaves head coach John Tortorella with a lot of explaining to do as to why his team is underachieving so badly. He is the type of personality that has a certain window of opportunity to get the most out of his team, and perhaps that window has closed in New York after 3+ seasons at the helm. He won the Cup in Tampa in his 3rd full season as head coach, and then lost twice in the first round of the playoffs before missing them entirely before being fired after 6+ seasons in charge.
Tortorella getting fired wouldn’t have many people shedding tears as the abrasive personality has rubbed a lot of media people the wrong way, and he is known for his 30 second press conferences, 1 word answers and verbal exchanges with Larry Brooks.
If the Rangers don’t quickly turn things around, Tortorella could soon join Lindy Ruff at the top of the list of candidates to be considered the next time a vacancy opens around the league.