Sunday, May 20, 2012
John Tortorella rants about Devils
By Katie Strang ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- In a heated Hudson River clash that is threatening to become pretty nasty, the gloves were officially dropped Sunday when Rangers coach John Tortorella ripped the Devils, accusing them of selling penalty calls and skirting the rules.
Livid with Devils coach Pete DeBoer's postgame comments about Rangers tough guy Brandon Prust -- DeBoer said Prust was "head-hunting" on an elbowing play that left Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov shaken up and earned Prust a one-game suspension -- Tortorella rattled off his own litany of complaints.
Eastern Conference Playoffs
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He began with two incidents involving Devils players -- a hit from Dainius Zubrus on Anton Stralman in the first period and Zach Parise's on Michael Del Zotto in the third -- and didn't stop there.
"I look at Zubrus' elbow to Stralman, I look at Parise launching himself into Del Zotto," Tortorella said. "Maybe if our players stay down on the ice, we'll get something."
Tortorella said his players are instructed not to embellish and hinted that he doesn't feel the same about the Devils.
"We tell our players 'Don't stay down on the ice, get up.' I hope ... I'll leave it at that," he said.
Tortorella also said he feels the Devils are using moving screens to free up Ilya Kovalchuk while on the power play.
"The picking on the power play, set plays, picking on the power play. We want to start discussing officials with the media, I have a long list here," he said. "That's a set play by Jersey, picking so we cant get to Kovalchuk to block a shot. You want some more ...?"
DeBoer was tight-lipped Sunday when told of the accusations directed toward his team.
In one word, DeBoer responded: "Comical."
Tortorella referenced Kovalchuk's first-period power-play goal in Game 2, in which the star sniper had a clear shooting lane. As Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky swung the puck from the point to Kovalchuk at the left circle, defenseman Dan Girardi got entangled with Devils forward Patrik Elias as he tried to shift with the play. After the goal, which gave New Jersey a 1-0 lead, Girardi threw up his hands in frustration and skated over to the nearest on-ice official, presumably to complain about what he felt to be a missed interference penalty.
"I brought this up already. It's a set play," Tortorella said. "They know we're trying to block shots on a pretty good shooter by them. It happened to Danny. I hope we look for it."
This isn't the first time the fiery coach has blasted an opponent. Tortorella, who has also been fined $50,000 for criticizing officials in two incidents earlier this season, engaged in a vicious verbal battle with DeBoer back in March.
The two coaches barked at each other both before and after the teams' final regular-season meeting on March 19 over an orchestrated opening-faceoff line brawl that featured six players dropping the gloves three seconds into play of the Rangers' 4-2 win.
DeBoer called Tortorella a "hypocrite" after that debacle.
Wrapping up his rant Sunday, Tortorella openly admitted his intent in unleashing his fury through the media.
"So there's some gamesmanship right there, huh?"
ESPN.com's Scott Burnside contributed to this report.