Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Torts: Aim Higher

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Torts: Aim Higher

Article excerpt

NEWARK - The raw emotion of the Rangers' overtime ouster from the playoffs was embodied in the glassy-eyed visage of second-year defenseman Ryan McDonagh, whose burgeoning skills are also one reason why this trip to the Eastern Conference finals was no fluke.

But even in the immediate wake of the top-seeded Rangers' 3-2 overtime loss to the sixth-seeded Devils on Friday night in the deciding Game 6 at Prudential Center, coach John Tortorella was already looking ahead.

"I just don't want this organization to sit still and say, before it was barely getting into the playoffs, losing in the first round, maybe getting to the second round, [it's OK]," Tortorella said.

Rather than preparing for a Game 7 against the Devils tonight at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers found themselves with an unwanted Memorial Day weekend break before gathering one last time for breakup day on Monday.

Tortorella, who took over for Tom Renney with 21 games remaining in the 2008-09 season, guided the Rangers to their furthest playoff run since 1997 after first-round ousters to the Capitals in 2009 and 2011 and missing the postseason on the last day of 2009-10.

"We played 20 playoff games," Tortorella said. "We played a couple of Game 7s. We've been in situations where we've had to scramble to win a series. I thought there were some really good things with some players and how they handle themselves, and I think there were some struggles with other ones. And these are the evaluations you go through as you gain experience."

The Rangers' roster had an average age of 27.3 years as compared to the Devils' 30.1. But there's no doubt improvements are needed as they seek their first Stanley Cup since 1994.

Despite the Rangers' identity as a hardworking, aggressive team, the Devils showed they could be pinned into their own zone for long stretches with a strong forecheck. So rather than get off to good starts, the Rangers spent much of the series playing from behind as the Devils outscored them, 7-1, in the first period.

"We're still a young club," Tortorella said. …

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