In Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win over Toronto, New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella took yet another “tough love” stance with forward Brandon Dubinsky.
Dubinsky was benched for seven minutes after gaffing on a read that allowed Toronto to score midway through the first period. Torts eventually sent him back out (Dubinsky responded by scoring), but then benched Dubinsky again in the third period, giving him just 43 seconds of ice time.
This isn’t the first time Tortorella’s admonished the 25-year-old. But according to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, it should be the last.
From The Post:
Dubinsky has to answer for himself and his largely sour season. By no means is this nine-goal, 30-point year on the coach’s shoulders. But benching and demoting Dubinsky within the rotation (a tactic meant to punish, teach and motivate), which has been part of Tortorella’s approach since Thanksgiving, hasn’t yielded dividends.
The Rangers are going to need Dubinsky to be a reliable, hard-edged and productive player in the playoffs. He has been that. Last year Dubinsky was the team’s best forward in the five-game first-round defeat to the Capitals, even moving back to center when Derek Stepan struggled in his first best-of-7.
The most puzzling aspect of the Tortorella-Dubinsky relationship is that Torts seems to punish Dubi more severely than the other Rangers.
Brooks notes that on Feb. 24, Michael Del Zotto committed a “ridiculous” penalty that Tortorella publicly criticized…yet the young defenseman didn’t miss a shift.
The New York Daily News then reported that Carl Hagelin, who struggled with defensive positioning throughout the Leafs game, got an earful from Tortorella for his lackluster play….but also didn’t miss a shift.
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.