Shut out for the fourth time this season, Rangers coach John Tortorella directed his ire toward his top players.
Following the team’s 3-0 loss at home to Ottawa Thursday, Tortorella was particularly critical of the Rangers' top two lines.
“Our grinders, our role players played well,” Tortorella said after the Rangers saw their five-game winning streak snapped. “But we got squat out of our top guys.”
When asked whether it was a lack of execution or effort from his top-six forwards, Tortorella paused.
“Both,” he said.
Granted, Ottawa’s Craig Anderson was outstanding – he turned away all 34 shots faced to record his 17th career shutout – but the Rangers were stymied at every turn offensively.
Both leading scorer Marian Gaborik and linemate Artem Anisimov were held without a shot. The latter was benched for a stretch in the second period and saw limited time in the third as Tortorella tried to juggle lines to spark some offense.
According to Tortorella, the team’s top line of Anisimov, Gaborik and center Derek Stepan has “dried up,” and Anisimov’s game has been steadily declining.
“It hasn’t gone this way,” Tortorella said, motioning upwards, before gesticulating Ansimov’s drop-off. “It keeps going this way.”
The Senators first line paved the way for the scorching Seantors – Jason Spezza scored twice, while Milan Michalek tallied his 23rd of the season – giving the Rangers’ checking line plenty of work.
Tortorella praised the line of Brian Boyle, Ruslan Fedotenko and Carl Hagelin, but said the team failed to get contributions elsewhere.
“Brian Boyle’s line can’t check their top line, and check the way they did, plus lead our team in scoring chances, too,” he said. “I just don’t think we got enough out of our top guys.”
Perhaps its because the Rangers have lost so infrequently of late – the team entered Thursday’s contest winners in ten of their previous 11 games – that the team seemed so disgusted by the loss.
There was little by way of acceptance from the team, despite the fact they were felled by a hot goaltender and a surging Senators squad.
“We expect a lot more out of ourselves. We’ve had success the past bunch of games and obviously throughout the year, but it still feels terrible to lose,” said Boyle, who has gone 21 games without a goal. “We don’t think a loss is bound to happen, by any means. We go into every game thinking we’re going to win the game. You can’t have that mentality. That’s kind of ridiculous.