What makes a good team a great team? It’s not just about having multiple extended winning streaks. That’s important for sure, but it’s not the most important thing. To me, the most important thing is to minimize losing streaks. You are going to lose. The Russians lost to a bunch of kids from Minnesota and Wisconsin in 1980, any team can lose on any given day. What separates the pretenders from the contenders are the ability to stop losing streaks in their tracks right away. You don’t allow 1 loss to balloon into 4, 5, 6, 7 losses in a row. Or else it takes a Herculean effort to right that wrong. A 5 game win streak followed by a 5 game losing streak is still just .500 hockey after all.
That’s the most impressive thing about this team, and really, if not for a nightmare travel schedule to star the season the may have had an even better record than what they have now. Who gets the credit? The same guy I semi-ripped into in my last writeup. Coach Torts. I knew he would right the ship, and right it he did. The Rangers didn’t play a strong offensive game tonight, but really, they aren’t a strong offensive team. What they did was shut down one of the best 1-2 punches in the NHL in Lupul and Kessel who didn’t look at all like the dominating players they seemed in MSG the first 2 meetings, and they took the body at every juncture. They got hit, sure. AA was leveled more times than we can count, but they gave back everything they took in spades. When they got hit, they got up, dusted themselves off, and threw hits themselves. That’s Tortorella hockey folks. Consistent, hard working, smart, simple, cohesive, disciplined. Love it.
This game did showcase why Wojtek Wolski should be in the lineup over a guy like Mitchell. The guy has skill. Tremendous skill. Playing Mitchell on that top line, to me, makes no sense. That’s where Wolski should be. But, how can you argue with a guy who has one of the more pedestrian teams talent wise at the top of the NHL?