Tortorella Says Pressure's On the Caps
Before the first game of this series, Rangers Coach John Tortorella said that Washington's home-ice advantage wouldn't really have an impact until a potential Game 7, and that early in the series, home ice could actually be a burden on the higher seed.
"There's a tremendous amount of pressure on the home team to win those first two games," he said then. "We come in here looking to steal one and see where we go from there....Game 7 is the advantage. If you do get to a Game 7, that's where the home ice advantage is -- that game."
Well, we got to a Game 7. And today, Tortorella revealed to whom the pressure has now shifted. Let's see....yup, it's still the Caps.
"I think it's an advantage for the home team to have Game 7 at home, but there's also a switch in pressure too, sometimes, where they're supposed to win it now," he said. "As I said yesterday, I don't think anybody's giving us a chance at all that we're gonna get things done tonight....Washington's supposed to win now. And we're not. So we're just going to go about our business."
(Here's something fun: Jay Greenberg decapitates Tortorella in the New York Post this AM for refusing to answer questions about his suspension, saying he "has the tact of a timberwolf and an immature view of civility," that he has a "lust for confrontation and hard-headed ability to make a bad situation worse," and that his team is "understandably playing tight."
(More fun: The Record's blog has Glen Sather checking out the glass behind the Rangers' bench this morning. And ESPN's Pierre LeBrun thinks "the gaps between the glass panels were smaller and the area looked more fortified," though building staffers told him 'twasn't so. Both report that the Rangers were briefly locked off the VC ice this AM.)
In fact, Tortorella used the word "pressure" five times this morning, and even when he was using different words, he was talking about the same thing.
"In Game 7s you can get yourself so wrapped up and say 'Oh crap, this is Game 7,' and you go out there paralyzed," Tortorella said. "You need to allow yourself to play in the situation, and not paralyze yourself. And some guys can do it, some guys can't. some guys get so uptight, they DO paralyze themselves and they're not gonna be a factor in the game. Other guys just look at this at an opportunity and allow themselves to play and just free themselves. Those are gonna be the better players tonight. Those are gonna be the better players.
"And that's where you find out how people handle these type of pressure situations. Do you accept it and enjoy it and look at it as an opportunity, or does it scare the hell out of ya and you paralyze yourself. And that's when we find out about players. You know, a player isn't remembered for the regular season, it's what happens in the playoffs, that's where you really find out what people are about, and we'll find out tonight."
If that wasn't enough talk of paralysis, Tortorella returned to the topic a few minutes later.
"We don't want them to overthink," he said of his group. "I think that's a key thing, because there's so much brought up about Game 7s, and again this is just the first round, but we don't want them to overthink because then we're paralyzed. We want to go. We just want to play. And the guys understand the magnitude of this, and we'll see. We'll see what some guys have inside them here, as you go along.
"It's the greatest thing about sports, in these type of situations, because some guys just thrive. A guy in this organization, Messier, thrived in these type of situations. Other guys are hiding. Are hiding. I'm not sure if we're gonna have any guys hiding. We'll find out. I don't have the answers right now."
Hopefully none of the paralyzed guys try hiding, because then they'd be pretty easy to find, I'd think. Anyhow, later Tortorella was asked about Marc Staal, and how the young D-man was almost effusive in talking about this chance.
"Innocence is a great thing," Tortorella said, then comparing his Rangers to the experienced Lightning team he once led. "I was fortunate enough to be involved with it, and we didn't have a clue what we were doing, because we didn't have a clue about the pressure. And that's what I'm hoping helps our team here, I don't think our team feels the pressure."
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