There's always a honeymoon period after something like a coaching change. Except that usually refers to the grace period the coach gets as he learns his way around his new team and his new environment. For John Tortorella, the question after two consecutive 2-1 losses is how long the honeymoon period will last for his team -- how long before the grace period he has granted them to show him what they are all about runs out.
Two games in, Tortorella remains happy with what he sees from his guys, even though they still can't score enough goals to win games they dominated. Two games in, Tortorella is not worried about a power play that failed on two consecutive chances to extend a 1-0 lead at the start of the third period, including a five-on-three. Two games in, Tortorella had to explicitly tell the media in both of his post-game press conferences that he is not angry at his team. Two games in, Tortorella insists that Chris Drury is going to start scoring goals very very soon, even though it's now forty days and forty nights (seventeen games) since he last scored.
Two games in, Tortorella is learning more and more about what this team was really about in the 61 games they played before his arrival. He saw not only how they fail to win games on the power play when they have a chance, he also saw how they make mediocre goalies look like world beaters -- Craig Anderson, who gave up 17 goals in his prior ten periods of action, made 40 saves to take first star of the game, just as Vesa Toskala made 70 saves against the Rangers in the prior two games (he gave up more tonight to the Islanders than the three goals he held the Rangers to over 125 minutes of play).
Two games in -- in just his first game in "Madison Square" -- and Tortorella heard the most concerted "Fire Sather" chants to rock the Garden since 2004. He's only had two games to judge whether Sather was right about having acquired players who could still play the way they once did for other teams. That's not enough time. Yet. He believes his team is getting enough good scoring chances that they will eventually start scoring. But they didn't become last in the league in scoring for lack of opportunty -- they rank sixth in the league in shots on goal and have launched 317 more shot attempts than their opponents this season (145-92 in Tortorella's two games alone, 73-46 in shots on goal).
Still, there is good reason to believe that things will turn around soon, if they keep working hard. No NHL team can go this long with this many chances and continue to come away with just one goal a game -- they will start scoring. The changes Tortorella made on the power play will start to reap results -- the rotation during five-on-fours, getting the puck down low during the five-on-three and looking for lateral puck movement to open things up. The question is, what will happen first, the Rangers starting to score more or opponents starting to take advantage of them on the counterattack -- it took two and a half periods for the Panthers to take advantage of the chances they got, having blown myriad odd man rushes until they finally broke through.