… on a rainy Newark afternoon …
I figured you needed a new thread by now, after the chat … and realized I hadn’t posted my story from The Journal News and LoHud.com today.
So here’s the story:
By Rick Carpiniello
NEW YORK — Let the gamesmanship begin.
The coaches of the two Eastern Conference finalists haven’t given us any reason to think they like one another, or even respect one another.
And now they’re going at it again, with words and expressions.
On Saturday evening, after the Rangers’ 3-0 win had given them a 2-1 lead in the series, Devils coach Peter DeBoer called Brandon Prust’s elbow to the head of Anton Volchenkov “head-hunting, pure and simple.”
On Sunday, while Prust was having his hearing with the NHL, Tortorella was almost asked the question about that comment. But before the question was completed, Tortorella cut it off and said, “The head shot?”
Then the Rangers’ coach, who has been quite chatty the last four days — and he does have spells where he’s quite good in interviews, for those just tuning in to hockey — went into a bit of a riff about that incident and others.
“Prust has played probably 300-plus games without any hearing, anything going on with him. He’s probably one of the most honest players,” Tortorella said.
“I look at (Dainius) Zubrus’ elbow to (Anton) Stralman. I look at (Zach) Parise launching himself at (Michael) Del Zotto. Maybe if our players stay down on the ice, we’ll get (a penalty or a suspension). We tell our players: Don’t stay down on the ice; get up. I hope … I’ll leave it at that.”
He had more. Tortorella claims — and his players have argued — that the Devils set illegal picks on faceoffs to try to get Ilya Kovalchuk away from the Rangers’ shot blockers, especially on the power play.
“(Illegal) picking on the power play, set plays … if we want to start discussing officials with the media, I have a long list here,” Tortorella said. “That’s a set play by Jersey, picking so we can’t get to Kovalchuk to block a shot.”
He was asked if that’s what Dan Girardi was arguing about after Kovalchuk’s wide-open power-play goal in Game 2, and said it was, and that it also happened to Ryan Callahan in the series. And he indicated that he’s discussed it with officials already.
“So there’s some gamesmanship right there, huh?” Tortorella said.
DeBoer, who had words via the media with Tortorella over a couple of regular-season games that started with line brawls, was asked about Tortorella’s claims Sunday.
“Comical,” he said.
DeBoer is too busy shuffling his lines and his lineup again, after being shut out twice despite outplaying the Rangers for long stretches in all three games.
Tortorellla’s right about his guys not staying down, though. Brian Boyle was concussed by Chris Neil in the Ottawa series, and not only got up and skated off, but also returned to the ice for a shift.
“I don’t know if anybody’s not told (to get up),” Brad Richards said. “I mean, most hockey players, most don’t dive. I don’t know. I can’t speak for any other team. But most teams, any team I’ve played on, most guys don’t lay on the ice when they get hit.”
Game 4 is tonight in Newark. This will be the Rangers’ seventh chance in these playoffs to go two games up in a series, and they have yet to do it once.
“We’ve got to realize where we are and the opportunity we have to take a 3-1 series lead,” Richards said. “We got away with kind of that roller-coaster ride we’ve been on. Hopefully the third time we realize — I don’t know if we’ll win, but at least come out with a really good effort, give ourselves the best chance to win.”