During last night’s thrilling triple overtime win over the Capitals, the Rangers appeared to look gassed at several points through the first and second overtimes. I say “appeared” because once the third overtime rolled around, the Rangers either found a second wind, or just had more stamina and gas in the tank than the Caps, and it showed. The Rangers thoroughly dominated the third overtime, and they seemed to find another level in their game, a level that the Caps could not match.
And they did this all with an incredibly short bench. Stu Bickel played just 3:42 all game, and didn’t see a shift after the first five minutes of the second period. The combination of Mike Rupp and John Mitchell didn’t see significant ice time either. In fact, they only had nine shifts a piece through the first 60 minutes. Rupp had 11 shifts in the extra 54 minutes, and Mitchell had 10 shifts.
In essence, the Rangers are playing with ten forwards and five defensemen. Pretty amazing to think that even with a short bench, and some unreal ice times (53 minutes for Ryan McDoangh…really?), they still managed to look fresher than the Caps. That’s all due to John Tortorella.
While the concerns are always going to be centered around the minutes played by some of the core guys, some credit needs to be given to the coaching staff for keeping this club in the shape they are in. Just when it looked like someone was tired or gassed, there was a next level they found. When it appeared that the Caps were ready to pounce, someone was there to stifle a rush or block a shot.
The players are the ones exceeding all expectations right now when it comes to performance related to ice time. Did anyone think that McDonagh would be able to catch up with Jason Chimera on a rush in the third overtime, despite already playing 50 minutes? Did anyone think that John Mitchell would get back in time, after turning the puck over, to block John Carlson’s shot attempt?
Camp Torturella has whipped these guys into shape. Considering the style that they play, they need to be in the best shape of their lives. They are proving that they can just outlast the opposition in marathons. Few teams can skate with them. That’s all on the coaching staff. Kudos for conditioning.