NYPost – In anticipation of Prust’s ban for elbowing Anton Volchenkov’s head in Game 3, Rangers coach John Tortorella complained that Devils winger Dainius Zubrus did the same to defenseman Anton Stralman. “Pruster’s played probably about 300-plus games without any hearings or anything going on,” Tortorella said. “He’s probably one of the most honest players in the NHL. Maybe if our players stay down on the ice, we’ll get some calls. We tell our players don’t stay down on the ice. Get up.” Tortorella also squawked that the Devils work a pick to free Ilya Kovalchuk on the power play, resulting in his Game 2 power-play score, one of just three goals the Devils have scored in three games. Tortorella’s “gamesmanship” comments were ridiculed as “comical” by Devils coach Pete DeBoer, nearly overshadows the vital consequences for the teams in Game 4 tonight in Newark.
So maybe the on-ice intensity hasn’t yet matched the royal rumble regular season matchups we’ve seen these teams play. Maybe the stakes are too high to let John Scott and Cam Janssen out of their cages for some fisticuff orgies. Maybe when each win means you’re one step closer to Lord Stanley, walking the tightrope of written rules is more important than entertaining blood thirsty hockey fans. That game plan’s all well and good for the guys on the ice, but if you think a fear of penalties is going to stop the coaches from chirping each other then you clearly don’t know DeBoer & Torts (which sounds like one of those shitty cops-that-don’t-get-along-but-have-to-work-together-for-the-sake-of-justice shows that TNT simply can’t stop itself from crapping out every three months). With these two dudes doing the media dance all weekend long, I’m betting tonight’s game four is due for a sparking just like the j I have waiting for me back home.
Torts is totally right in saying that Prust is an honest player – anyone who’s watched him knows he goes hard and hits like a bus, but he’s never hunting heads and always plays a fair game. Suspendable elbow? Oh for sure, even without an injury to Volchenkov I’m fine with giving Prusty a game in the pressbox. Hagelin’s suspension brought us the gift of Chris Kreider so I’m simply staying positive in the face of mandatory nights off. But Henry Winkler’s stunt double doesn’t just accept the facts lying down like a little bitch. Hell no. Let me ask something – is there anybody better in the coaching game at taking the pressure off of his players than John Tortorella? Like if someone has to be scrutinized on this squad, Torts is making sure it’s him writing headlines and not Marian Gaborik’s defensive woes. You want to call his player a dirty headhunter? Well he’ll just counter back saying you set picks and flop around on the ice like soccer players. Boom! Now who’s under the microscope? Now who’s defending themselves and playing dumb to the press? Dude’s just playing chess while DeBoer and the Devils play checkers…
Game 4, tonight at 8 on NBCSN. A victory tonight and we’re one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals. One loss and we’re back to playing those three-game-series we seem to love so much. Pressure’s all on Gumdrop… @Osgood_StoolNYC