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Tortorella: We'll see what we're made of

Tuesday, 04.28.2009 / 1:37 PM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"Do they care? Absolutely. As we go through an experience like this, a Game 7 -- and, again I'm still learning a little bit about the personnel -- there are certain levels of care. This is going to be a great experience for me in coaching this team in a Game 7 to see in this type of situation, with some of the things that have gone on in this series and all the stuff going on around them, how guys handle it."
-- John Tortorella

WASHINGTON -- In the short term, New York Rangers coach John Tortorella wants to win a hockey game, a playoff series.

As he prepares his team to do so Tuesday and then coaches them through the process a few hours later against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center, he's excited to find out a heck of a lot about the guys he's got.

"Do they care? Absolutely," Tortorella said Tuesday morning. "As we go through an experience like this, a Game 7 -- and, again I'm still learning a little bit about the personnel -- there are certain levels of care. This is going to be a great experience for me in coaching this team in a Game 7 to see in this type of situation, with some of the things that have gone on in this series and all the stuff going on around them, how guys handle it.

"I think we have got good people, but I always believe that people can care, and then people can really care," he continued. "We'll find out as they go through, but I hope all 20 of them really care. Those are the things I look at as we continue to grow."

There are, of course, the mandatory things any coach has to do, like complete his lineup. Tortorella said he's not sure if call-up Artem Anisimov, who had 37 goals and 44 assists in the American Hockey League this season, will play or enforcer Colton Orr.

The coach knows the Rangers have to hang on to the puck more against to keep the powerful Capitals' offense in check. They need to really put some heat on Caps' rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov, who has allowed only six goals in five games in this series.

"We need to regain some of our forechecking and offensive zone pressure to get to him," Tortorella said. "It's a Game 7 and we need to test him."

Getting a good start is important because, as Tortorella said, it will wash away everything that has happened to the Rangers in the last four days, including blowing a 3-1 lead in the series and having their coach suspended for a game after his water bottle toss.

"I don't think anybody is giving us a chance at all that we're going to get things done here, and that's where our start is important," Tortorella said. "We need a good start to compete and then we'll see how it goes. Washington is supposed to win now."

Even though he continues to play the "us-against-the-world" card, Tortorella said every Ranger player thinks they can win Tuesday night. How they handle being in the moment will tell him all he needs to know about everyone in that dressing room.

"I think I can help them with some experiences as far as preparation and just try to settle things down at certain times, but I don't have the uniform on," said Tortorella, who won the biggest Game 7 of them all in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. "Sure, and Schoeny (Jim Schoenfeld) and I have already started, just trying to prepare as we go to a Game 7, but we don't want them to over-think. We don't want them to over-think because we don't want them paralyzed. We just want to play. The guys understand the magnitude of this.

"We'll see what some guys have inside them here as we go along," he continued. "Some guys just thrive. A guy in this organization, (Mark) Messier, just thrived in these types of situations. Other guys are hiding. I'm not sure if we're going to have any guys hiding, but we'll find out. I don't have the answers right now."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com


Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff