John Tortorella Breaks Down the Goalie Matchup
At least for another six hours, one of the two primary story lines of tonight's playoff series is Theodore vs. Lundqvist. After that, people will actually play hockey, and then we can figure out what the actual story lines should be.
But while we wait, Rangers Coach John Tortorella gave us his version of this favored-by-the-media storyline. He was asked this afternoon about his past comments concerning Henrik Lundqvist being the best net-minder in the league.
"I think that," he said. "I don't know a damn thing about goaltending. I don't. I just want him to make the saves. As a coach that's all you should look for.... I don't really spend too much time talking with them or dealing with them. And I say that about Henrik, not since I've been coaching him but from afar, too. I just like his fight. That's what I like about him, is his fight and how he carries himself, and he does make some pretty good saves along the way. If we're gonna compete in this series and try to find our way, he's gonna have to be our best player, just as Theodore's gonna have to be their best player. That's just the lay of the land in the National Hockey League; goaltending's that important."
I know a few wise old heads among Caps fans who believe this team can advance past the Rangers without Theodore necessarily being their best player, but like I said, six more hours. Anyhow, I asked the Rangers coach for his thoughts about Theodore.
"I have my thoughts," he said. "I'm not gonna give them to you. So we'll leave it at that."
Quite an endorsement. Theodore was asked whether he'll be judging himself against the rival netminder this week; "Obviously we know he's a good goalie and he can make a difference as well," Theodore said yesterday, "but for me it's just to play my game and be on top of my game and go from there."
The guy has faced a barrage of these questions every day, but I also asked him to describe how things change in the postseason.
"You kind of feel a rivalry right off the bat," Theodore said. "That's what the playoffs are all about: you play the same team, you create a rivalry, and every game you create a different script. [The pressure] depends how you approach it. For me, I approach it as the best time of the year. You're a step closer to the Cup. I approach it in a positive way....It's pressure that as a goalie you learn to deal with it. It's obvious that goaltending is a big part of the game, especially in the playoffs, which is great. You can make a difference out there, and that's my goal, to try to make a difference every night."
Aside from all that, the best part of the morning was seeing the Caps' prospective lines on a white board in the Rangers dressing room. Hershey's Keith Aucoin was listed as the fourth-line center. Mike Green's name was spelled "Greene." And Shaone Morrisonn's last name was spelled "Morrison." If this were a best-of-seven copy-editing series, the Caps would have already held serve at home.
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