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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rangers Rout Avs 6-1, The Advent of the Tortorella Goal

BallHype: hype it up!

Tortorella was the the opposite of Tom Renney in multiple ways. Tort is American, Renney is Canadian. Their demeanors are night and day. Tortorella is the lion whereas Renney was the lamb. The other main difference comes in their coaching philosophies. Renney was a finesse coach who enjoyed lots of passing and the fancy goal. He ran the Princeton offense of the NHL, lots of backdoor cuts and a slower controlled pace of the game. Tortorella runs the Mike DiAntoni/ Mike Martz offense. This includes a face paced offense, an avid forecheck (even while short handed), bombing shots from anywhere in the offensive zone, and most importantly in my book, crashing the net. These are the types of goals the Rangers never scored under Renney and that they are now starting to score under Tort. So I now introduce you to the newest member of the Back to the Point Blog... The Tortorella Goal.

The Tortorella Goal is any goal that involves crashing the net, bombing from the point, anything generated from an aggressive forecheck, and anything else that I see that I determine would never happen under Renney. This is very scientific, I promise.

28 seconds into last night's game and the Rangers brought the Madison Square Garden crowd to their feet with a great 2-1 break leading to a Ryan Callahan goal from Brandon Dubinsky. 40 seconds later and the Rangers scored their first Tortorella goal of the night. The Rangers worked the puck behind the net and Lauri Korpikoski, who was forechecking deep, simply threw the puck in front of the net where Nikolai Zherdev was waiting for it. Zherdev got his stick on the puck in the crease and threw it off of an Avs defenseman and in. It was a lucky bounce, but that is what happens you generate pressure in front of the crease. Good things happen. 1 minute and 8 seconds into the game and the Rangers already had two goals.

Throughout the rest of the first, the Rangers fed off of the early momentum generated and simply out hustled and out skated the Avalanche. This was most apparent on the 2nd Tortorella goal of the night and 3rd in the first period. Off of the draw in the Avs zone, the puck was drawn back to the point and Mara unloaded a blast. Korpikoski started to crash the net but saw the puck was going wide of the goal and instead changed direction and outhustled the Avs defense behind the net. He got the puck and threw it in front to also crashing Petr Prucha. Prucha smashes it home on a picture perfect hustle play. This was Peter Budaj's early exit point.

The last goal of the 1st came from another Tortorella type play. Zherdev with his fancy skating gained the zone and circled back to the wing. As he circled back he saw Marc Staal just gaining the zone with his stick raised well above his head asking, no, begging Zherdev to feed him for a slapshot. Tortorella has gotten on his d-men over the past week to get more involved with the offense and jump into the plays. This was a perfect example of it as Zherdev hit Staal in stride, and Staal uncorked a rocket towards the net. Waiting in front was a lone Scott Gomez who deflected it past Raycroft and in.

4 First period goals
3 Tortorella goals
19,800 ecstatic Rangers fans in the Garden and thousands more around the nation.

The last time the Rangers scored 4 goals TOTAL in a game was back on February 11 vs the Capitals. This was only the 4th time they scored 4 goals in 2009.

Full game highlights:

The large first period lead allowed the Rangers to coast through the rest of the game. Early in the second they scored a power play goal while the Avs were down 2 men. After a scrap in front of the net, Naslund caused a turnover before the Avs could clear the zone. This lead to the puck bouncing over to Gomez who after one pass attempt failed, threaded a needle through the other side to Drury who had as open of a net as you could get. Had this been 5-5 hockey, I may have given it a Tortorella Goal, but 5-3 and the Rangers should have had the clear advantage there.

The lone blemish of the Rangers night came off of a Dmitri Kalinin gaffe where he had the puck bounce over his stick and through his legs on a Milan Hejduk dump in. Ryan Smith picked up the puck and had open ice between him and Lundqvist. After a little Shake & Bake (I'm in the middle of Talledega Nights while writing this), the shutout was gone.

The last Rangers goal came off of pure hustle and caught the Avalanche off guard. Naslund started with the puck in his own end and fed Kalinin on the breakout. Kalinin hit Gomez going up the wing, and then did something that he must have learned over the last week of practices... he bum rushed the net. Not only did he do it, but so did Nigel Dawes. Gomez then dropped the pass back to Naslund and headed straight for Raycroft as well. It was like a jail break blitz on the goalie, and Naslund took advantage, scoring his 20th of the season and giving him 10 straight seasons of 20 or more goals. Razor never had a chance. This was the Ranger's first 6 goal game of the season and their first 6 goal game since 2007. Thank you John Tortorella.

Tort Goals: 4
Others: 2

The Rangers now have four well deserved days off as they face the Fighting Ricky 5 Holes on Long Island on Thursday. Whether or not this was the switch that turned all of the lights on, Saturday night's 6 goal outburst was fun too watch and hopefully a sign of things to come.

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