You will probably be surprised to learn the New York Rangers have the lowest per game goal-scoring average in the league at 2.42, but don’t blame that on John Tortorella.
After the team took a couple of games to get used to the new coaching system, they went on a 7-3-0 run and have averaged 3.33 goals per game. This is more like the team we thought we’d see in the first place.
Poolies wish there were more coaches in the NHL like ‘Torts.’ He preaches offense and doesn’t believe in checkers. Or rather – he believes in them, he just expects them to score.
The stars are playing like stars again. In those 10 games, Scott Gomez has netted 10 points. It now looks as though he will avoid falling short of the 60-point mark for the first time since 2003. Chris Drury has eight points in that span.
Whether it was the addition of Nik Antropov, the new coaching style, or perhaps a bit of each, Nikolai Zherdev has also regained his scoring touch during the run, scoring eight points. Speaking of Antropov, he has eight points in nine games under Torts. If the Rangers re-sign Antropov, he should be a 70-point player as a Blueshirt next campaign.
Another player who is flourishing is Ryan Callahan. The 24-year-old has 10 points in 10 contests and is on a six-game point-scoring streak. Bouncing between linemates Brandon Dubinsky-Fredrik Sjostrom and Gomez-Sean Avery, Callahan seems to spark the team whenever he steps on the ice. He is a potential 65-point player and could flirt with that notion next season if he continues to impress his coach. We all know from Tortorella’s days in Tampa that he loves to play the heck out of the players he trusts.
Which brings us to Avery. Still think there will be any problems between him and the coach? Take a look at his ice time (rounded to the nearest minute). In Avery’s first game under Torts he played 14 minutes. After that, his minutes in each game progressed like this: 14, 15, 17, 17, 16, 19, 16 and 21.
Torts is loving what Avery brings to the team and as long as the notorious agitator can keep his cool, the numbers will continue to come. In nine games, Avery has seven points, 26 shots, 10 penalty minutes and has an even plus-minus.
Two players who are on the outs in New York are also two of the highest paid. Markus Naslund has just two points in his past eight games and saw less than 15 minutes of ice time in five of those contests.
Defenseman Wade Redden is still getting plenty of ice time, but has failed to shake his brutal slump. He has just three points and is a plus-1 in his past 10. Unless they redeem themselves in the post-season, these guys will never get into Tortorella’s good books. And if you’re not in those books, you won’t hold fantasy value…
Farm Report: Rangers prospect Evgeny Grachev, currently playing in the Ontario League, already eclipsed Jason Spezza’s record for most points by a Brampton Battalion rookie, but now the 19-year-old is dominating the post-season as well. After scoring 80 points in 60 regular season contests, Grachev has seven points in just two playoff games. The team can probably afford to give him one more year in junior, but this up-and-coming star should be on the NHL roster by 2010-11.
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