Right or wrong message?
Interesting question from a fan and fellow blog reader after coach John Tortorella, talking to reporters after Tuesday's 5-4 victory over the Blues, took a little piece out of the hides of his players. The win wasn't good enough, Tortorella said, because another third-period meltdown in which St. Louis scored two goals in the last five minutes and turned a good effort into an episode of survivor.
Tortorella called the circumstances "horse(bleep). It's just not pride in the details of the game. You can't even enjoy a win. It was awful.''
The reader wanted to know if that was the right message to send after a road victory, especially one game after a third-period meltdown cost Tampa Bay the game against the Panthers? Why not go positive instead of negative?
For what it's worth, defenseman Paul Ranger said Torts' criticism was correct.
"It's important that we recognize that,'' he said of the third-period problems. "That's completely fair. We get a good win but at the same time, you can't just ignore it. We have to use these situations to learn from it.''
A couple things probably set Torts off. One, the mistakes lately, including those against the Panthers Saturday, when two late goals led to a loss, are being made by the top players. Dan Boyle and Vinny Lecavalier messed up on St. Louis' third goal, and Lecavalier, Brad Richards and Marty St. Louis were on the wrong side of the puck that led to a four-on-two and St. Louis' fourth goal.
The other thing are the points Tampa Bay has left on the table because of rotten third-period play. The team has lost 12 games, nine in regulation, in which it either led or was tied heading into the third period. That is 21 points squandered. And when you're eight points out of first in your division but otherwise out of the playoffs, that's a big deal.
Boyle agreed with Ranger about Torts' outburst, saying, "That's what being a coach is about. He has to look at the third period. The third period has been kind of a mess. You can't give up a four-on-two. You have to be on the defensive side of things. I wasn't happy when I came off the ice. Yeah, we won, but ... ''
St. Louis acknowledged the team has to play better in the third period. But he also said, "I know when that buzzer sounded, I enjoyed that win. Knowing the teams we are chasing lost, I was very happy.''
Torts wasn't. Should he have been?