NEW YORK -- The Madison Square Garden crowd didn’t like it and neither did the New York Rangers players who were penalized.
Twice in Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Rangers were whistled for embellishment. Mats Zuccarello went to the box after colliding with Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald. Later in the second period, Derek Dorsett was slapped with the same two-minute minor after he went sailing head-first into the end boards following a whistle at 11:41.
Neither Zuccarello nor Dorsett agreed with those calls or the implications of the infraction.
“I didn’t agree with that call, but at the same time, it’s fast hockey out there and refs makes mistakes, like we do,” Zuccarello said Monday after the team’s optional morning skate at Madison Square Garden. “There’s nothing to think about right now. I think everybody who watches me play knows I’m not a diver.”
Dorsett was surprised the officials decided to go with offsetting penalties, especially since the initial indication was that the Rangers would be going on the power play after Wayne Simmonds’ cross-check.
“You know what? Initially they were just calling him for the cross-check. I don’t know if they changed their mind when [the Flyers] stared yelling. I’m not sure what happened there but, I watched it on tape after and there was really no embellishment,” Dorsett. “I would say I went down, but I hit Giroux going to the net and then the whistle was going and it was probably two seconds after the whistle, then I get hit. I’m in a vulnerable position. I can’t see what’s coming behind me. Whether I went down easy or not, in my opinion, I wasn’t diving.”
Neither penalty proved costly, but you could tell it was agitating for the Rangers nonetheless. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault declined to comment about the calls, or the subsequent explanations he received from officials, though he gave the impression of being displeased.
“Did you see the replays?” Vigneault asked. “So, I’ll let you make the judgment on if Zuccarello’s was an embellishment. It doesn’t matter what I think. I’ll let you make the judgment and make the call on that.”
Disgruntled as they may have been with that pair of calls, the Rangers still received six power-play opportunities of their own as the Flyers upped their intensity level and indulged in some of the post-whistle extra-curricular activity that was curiously subdued in a relatively gentlemanly Game 1.
With the series tied 1-1 and almost certain to take on a nastier tone, New York can’t worry too much about the officiating. Discipline must be a central focus.
"You get pretty irritated right there when you think it’s a bad call but right now that’s something I don’t think about it,” Zuccarello said. “It’s a new game coming up tomorrow. That’s all I have on my mind."