|Nick Makes the Rangers Pay Attention|
Which is irony, writ large. Our faithful beat writers for the Columbus Dispatch, Aaron Portzline and Mike Arace remember well when Keith Tkachuk ruined Kevin Dineen's knee, finishing the old Hartford Whaler's career while he was playing with the CBJ. The most ironic possible ending for this would be for Matthew Tkachuk to take this team to the promised land. Based on his World Juniors performance, Matt Tkachuk would be like adding a second Boone Jenner to the roster, creating depth at the skill and tenacious play positions (you can't get enough of that). It is possible that coming up dry in the NHL lottery is a trend that will continue for the CBJ, but numerical odds are an implacable foe in the grand history of things. Whether you hit in one particular lottery or another becomes irrelevant when you are present in the long run. The statistical hold that Edmonton has possessed must break at some point, and they will have to use those assets to build a complete team. The problem is that they will be selling at the bottom of the market, and a package of Jack Johnson and Dalton Prout might be attractive for Edmonton for someone like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a former Crosby-esque savior of any franchise. As mentioned earlier in this space, at some point you have to come to grips with building a back end of your hockey team.
But returning to current events, I really enjoyed tonight's game. Tortorella attempted to match speed against speed, which is the Ranger's strength. Who should know better than Torts? And at some point, Bjorkstrand, Milano, and Kukan were going to have to face the Rangers. They have that under their belt at this point, which will be good experience for next year. Torts will use this game to illustrate that they can do this against the Rangers if they maintain their poise, and he will be right.
Tortorella is a damn good coach. Don't lose sight of that.
I, personally, am truly sorry to see Scott Hartnell benched tonight. He lingers one goal shy of 300 goals, but I don't think Tortorella has served him wrong by benching him. That is John's way of saying 'get it done' and I think Hartnell will. Outside of this God forsaken season, I think Hartnell is a huge asset for this team. He may not like Tortorella's approach to his playing time, but he can't argue it is not justified. I love Hartnell as a player, but I am in Tortorella's camp on this one. If you don't earn your time, you don't get the time. Tortorella didn't come here to finish last, I promise you. This year was cast in stone before he arrived (NHL worst start ever if you throw out WW2). Worst. Start. Ever. That is the inescapable stink of this year that we will thankfully shed in another week, other than wearing it for the rest of our lives. Tortorella gets it, and will make sure it doesn't happen again.
So. Note to fans. I love the start of training camp. I'm jonesing for hockey, its fun to see them flying around the ice! Get over that. They will be lucky if Torts lets them have a puck in the first three days. Hey, I have a training camp T-shirt! I'd rather have a winner. Torts, do what you gotta do brother, I got your back. At this point seeing them bake in training camp will be as entertaining as watching them glide around thinking they are bad-asses. The start CANNOT suck Torts, and anything you have to do to make that happen is fair game,
Looking forward to taunting some Black Hawks fans as they fail to show for our finale. So...