Someone please knock on the Rangers dressing room during the second intermission and tell the team they need to come out for the rest of the game. Hockey games are 60 minutes. Play all 60 of them. If it will be helpful, we can break each game down into three 20-minute segments so they are easier to focus on. Wait, this already is done? I hope the Rangers learn this.
Initially it was falling asleep at the end of periods and surrendering bad late goals. Recently it has mushroomed into tossing away entire periods, most shockingly, the third one. You cannot win at any level of hockey giving up end of game goals. And yet in their last 5 losses (over a 7 game span) the Rangers have surrendered 2, 1, 1, 4, and 3 third period goals. Horrible.
So what is the cause of this? It could be lack of discipline/fundamentals. This certainly was the cause of Rozsival’s mess-up last night when he failed to pick up a charging Rupp. Even a NBA fan who’s never watched hockey knows you need to stop the ball (puck). It could be talent, meaning other teams just have more. The Penguins certainly do. But it really wasn’t their top forwards that scored the key late goals. And three of our last five losses have been against Florida, Tampa Bay, and Columbus. Not exactly the creme de la creme of the NHL. It could be penalties, meaning we take tons of them. But opposing teams have taken some against us in the third too.
There is one thing that ties all of these reasons, and others, together. And that’s exhaustion. It is a fact common to all humans that people perform worse when they are tired. Mentally and physically. This is where Tortorella comes in. He constantly benches players for long stretches (whole games even), rotates just three lines for significant portions of games, and almost pathologically juggles lines. All of this must contribute to players being tired. Mentally andphysically. So stop it! Do not bench players except in rare instances. If you must to make a stand, limit their shifts instead, but still play them — benching only negatively affects the rest of the team. Play all 4 lines, at least into the third period. Keep your guys fresh. Games (seasons) are long. And give the team a chance to play on the same lines for a few games. (99% of NHL teams historically do this — there probably is something to this consistency thing.) Clearly what Torts has tried has failed. So do something different. As Einstein said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Einstein may not have been a hockey player, but he was pretty smart. Torts should listen to Albert’s advice.