Tortorella scoffs at adversity claim

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:36 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- In the wide-ranging, sometimes colourful vocabulary of John Tortorella, the word "adversity" means many things.

Like getting suspended for a game during the 2009 playoffs for, among other things, chucking a water bottle into the Verizon Center stands.

Like becoming Sean Avery's coach after having told a national TV audience that the New York Rangers superpest should be kicked out of the league.

And like being forced to deal with certain media members who have driven him bonkers for years.

But losing the opening game of a best-of-seven playoff series 18-plus minutes into overtime, a contest in which they were just one shot away from winning?

Are you serious?

Puh-lease.

"Adversity? It's a series," Tortorella told reporters Thursday, less than 24 hours after his Rangers had dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to the Capitals.

"We're down 1-0. It's not adversity. It's finding a way to be better for longer."

To that end, Tortorella juggled his lines in practice Wednesday in an attempt to squeeze out any nugget of additional offence from a team that failed to muster 30 total shots in 78-plus minutes.

The biggest winner in the shuffle is Erik Christensen, who was bumped up to the top unit between Vinny Prospal and Marian Gaborik in favour of Artem Anisimov. If the Rangers are to have any chance in what could be a low-scoring series, it is paramount that the oft-injured Gaborik begins to exhibit more offensive zeal.

"We need to get more scoring chances," Tortorella said. "We'll figure it out ... We need to spend more time in their offensive zone."

Anisimov, meanwhile, was dropped to the fourth line with Chris Drury and either Avery or Mats Zuccarello.

It will be interesting to see if Tortorella bites the bullet and dresses Avery for Game 2 on Friday. Avery was a healthy scratch in Game 1, the seventh time in 14 contests he has watched a game in civvies.

To a man, the Rangers rejected the notion that their mindset might have taken a negative turn when Alexander Semin ripped home the winning goal in Game 1.

"Oh God, I'm not worried about them," Tortorella said of his players.

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who was outstanding in the opener, agreed.

"We've been pretty good at responding after tough games and coming back with a solid performance," he said. "(But) going into the playoffs, it's not good enough to bounce back with a solid performance. You need a great performance."

One noticeable absentee from practice was defenceman Marc Staal, who wore the goathorns in overtime when his ill-advised clearing attempt was gobbled up by the Caps, leading to Semin's goal.

According to the Rangers, Staal was given a maintenance day, understandable given the heavy workload he had in Game 1.

As for all the criticism being heaped his way for his poor pass, it is misguided. Staal is one of the best young defencemen in the league and will continue to be heavily leaned upon.

Not having Staal on the roster? Now, that would probably rate as "adversity" in John Tortorella's book.

Fortunately he does.


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