Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"We're a soft team" - Why the Ranger will be Better next year - part 2

Yesterday we talked about physical conditioning - how Tortorella plans to make the Rangers a much more physically fit team - enabling us to play up tempo hockey and outlast our opponents.
Today we're going to talk about another aspect of the physical game - toughness.

Toughness can be looked at more than one way. There's physical toughness and mental toughness. One feeds off the other.

In a article by our favorite local Ranger writer Steve Zipay of Newsday, Tortorella pulled no punches in explaining the problem he's trying to fix:
"We're a soft team," the Ranger coach explained, "I don't think we're physical enough on the ice ... and it's got to change. It's a disease if you let it go on."

There is that aspect to hockey - if one team can physically intimidate the other - if your stars are swiveling their heads looking to avoid hits instead of looking to make plays - if the game becomes a brawl and you can't defend yourself - this leads to a loss of morale.

There's also a mental aspect. You want your team to never quit - never give up. There will be adversity in hockey games and hockey seasons - you have to keep working - keep your legs skating - until you can turn things around.

How will Tortorella and Sather install some toughness? Replacing Orr with Brashear - as much as we hate this move - will make it harder for other teams to target our stars. And the general move to younger, larger players ups our toughness level also. And the physical conditioning we spoke about yesterday - this also adds to our physical and mental toughness. And finally - they way Torts runs camp - full speed ahead - toughens up the players.

So we are expecting your 2009-2010 Rangers to show a lot more toughness than we've seen in years.

Again though - time will tell.

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