It’s hard to say that John Tortorella cost the Rangers their season – up to and including Game 4 of the first round he seemed to be the spark that ignited their late season run – but he made several errors during the last three games of the series. It was still up to the Capitals to claim the thin sliver of opportunity that they had been presented, which they did.
Early in the series, Tortorella seemed to focus on the officials and Sean Avery instead of New York’s outstanding play and Washington’s insecure goaltending situation. Whilst attempting to inspire his team late in Game 5, he pulled Henrik Lundqvist and it seemed to take the goalie another four periods to regain his form. Lastly, he lost his composure and chose to shine the spotlight on himself when he threw a water bottle into the stands and lunged at a spectator with a hockey stick. Consequently, he was not present to lead the team during the Game 7 (actually Game 6 which was held at Madison Square Gardens) because he was suspended.
Tortorella will always be a coach with negative characteristics that correspond to his positive traits. This year, his fiery personality proved to be a stark contrast to the cool and calculated demeanor of previous coach Tom Renney, inspiring the Blueshirts. Objectively, the encouragement of Bruce Boudreau better motivated the Caps, who won the final three games of the series and moved on to the next round.