It’s clear the Rangers are trying to win this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series behind their goaltending and their defense, and Coach John Tortorella reiterated his club’s defensive philosophy this morning in advance of tonight’s Game 2.
The Rangers simply don’t have the offensive depth to match the Capitals, so their best chance is to try keep the game close and steal a win late.
“I’ve always felt that if you’re going to succeed in the playoffs, you better have a foundation of defense,” Tortorella said. “That’s how we’re going to play. We’re going to have to defend first here against a team that has some good skill. I just don’t think you lose offense by playing good defense. I think it starts that way. [When] you’re stingy, you end up getting the puck back quicker and get on to the offense.”
The Capitals largely controlled play during Game 1, and Tortorella emphasized the importance of the Rangers improving their forecheck and spending more time in their offensive zone.
The Capitals actually allowed one fewer goal than the Rangers did during the regular season, and Tortorella acknowledged how tough the Capitals have become defensively.
He certainly isn’t the first one to notice, but he said it’s clear the Caps are committing to defense more than they had in the past.
“This here in Washington, they’re playing a special defense,” Tortorella said. “I don’t think it’s a special defense, I think it’s a concentration. They did a pretty good job of it in the first game.”