tortsperturbedgetty

Tortorella takes blame for top players’ struggles

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New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella isn’t particularly prone to call out players.

He refused to do it with Rick Nash. Torts proudly professed his love for Brad Richards. The fiery coach wisely passed on critiquing Henrik Lundqvist.

Instead, it seems like he’s pointing the blame to himself.

After watching his team get bounced in Game 5 on Saturday, Tortorella told reporters such as ESPN’s Katie Strang that it’s his fault that the team’s top producers mostly fell flat. He went on to assess both the series and the Rangers’ disappointing season.

“They deserved to win the series. They were the better team,” Tortorella said. “I thought, this season, we struggled to get our personality, to get our identity.”

That identity part might just fall on Torts, though it remains to be seen if it costs him his job.

In case you’re wondering, Derick Brassard (12 points), Mats Zuccarello (seven points) and Carl Hagelin (six points) were the Rangers’ top playoff scorers while Rick Nash and Brad Richards combined for two goals (though Nash added four assists).

Tortorella: ‘I screwed up’ by not using McDonagh on PP earlier

McDonagh
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The New York Rangers scored their first power play goal of the Eastern Conference semifinals in Thursday’s Game 4 win over Boston, and looked more dynamic with the man advantage than any of the previous three games of the series.

Head coach John Tortorella thinks he knows why — he wasn’t using Ryan McDonagh enough.

McDonagh, who logged 3:32 of power-play ice time in Game 4 (only d-man with more was Michael Del Zotto) was a major catalyst, according to Torts.

“I think he helped us on the power play,” Tortorella said on Friday. “It’s me, I screwed that up not using him early enough and I should have.”

McDonagh was a virtual non-factor with the man advantage during the regular season. He averaged just 38 seconds of power play time per night and had just one point — an assist — in 47 games.

But with the Rangers all but out of ideas (they were 2-for-38 heading into last night), Torts decided to give McDonagh a shot, and the move paid off. He had two of New York’s six power-play shots on the night, and looked comfortable manning the point.

Tortorella was full of praise for McDonagh’s ability to rise to the occasion.

“He’s probably one of the most intense, competitive people, players,” Torts explained. “He just competes.”

Video: Tortorella explains decision to scratch Richards

Brad Richards
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New York Rangers coach John Tortorella still loves forward Brad Richards and if you don’t believe him, then he has some choice words for you.

At the same time, Tortorella decided it was important to go into detail about why Richards was a healthy scratch on Thursday after being previously relegated to the fourth line.

“By no means is this a situation when I take him out that I’m blaming him,” Tortorella said, per NHL.com. “I’m playing Brad on the fourth line, he’s playing seven or eight minutes, it’s not good for him. It doesn’t work playing Brad Richards that way, but I also feel some other guys have played better so that’s where he is right now in our lineup.”

Tortorella determined that he didn’t have a spot on either of the Rangers’ top two lines for Richards, but he also needed to give the fourth line “some sort of identity,” so Richards had to come out.

The obvious question now is what’s next for the 33-year-old forward. If the Rangers can’t find a use for him in the playoffs, they might buy out his massive contract. Perhaps that will happen, but Tortorella is still in his corner even if he isn’t using him.

“I’m sure people will pick it apart, but I want to make sure you know Brad Richards is a hell of a hockey player,” Tortorella said. “He has had struggles. He’s had struggles here. It continues. Me putting him in that role does not help him. So I’d rather have him out and identify how we’re going to run our fourth line.”

We’ll see if Richards is given a chance to bounce back in Game 5.

Tortorella says he loves Brad Richards; those who deny that can ‘kiss his [bleep]’

John Tortorella
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New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella made big-money forward Brad Richards a healthy scratch in an eventual Game 4 win, but he insists that the two remain tight.

Naturally, he insisted in a boisterous and profane way, as CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reports.

“I love that guy,” Tortorella said. “I’ve grown up with that guy. Kiss my [expletive deleted] if you’ve written anything differently.”

It’s not the first time Torts’ comments have needed a parental advisory, and with the second-round series extended for at least one more contest, it might not be the last.

Of course, the bigger question is: will his buddy appear in Game 5? Tortorella didn’t provide an answer on Thursday.

He’s willing to admit that he is relieved that the Rangers avoided elimination, however.

“I’m happy for them,” Tortorella said. “They’re still breathing.”

Also still alive: the “what will Tortorella say next?” game.

Rangers’ goaltending a concern? ‘We know what Henrik is,’ says Tortorella

New York Rangers v Boston Bruins - Game Two
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It’s been a while since New York Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist allowed five goals in a game.

According to a tweet from Andrew Gross, the Rangers’ beat reporter for The Record in New Jersey, Lundqvist had gone 152 straight games – including playoffs and regular season – without allowing five goals.

Sunday wasn’t a good time for this streak to come to an end.

The Rangers fell to the Bruins by a final score of 5-2 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal and now trail 2-0 in the series.

Lundqvist allowed five goals on 32 shots. It’s also been back-to-back games Lundqvist has been outplayed by Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask.

But Rangers’ head coach John Tortorella wasn’t in the mood to openly criticize his goalie – the same one that registered 24 wins in the lockout-shortened regular season, which put him in a three-way tie with Antti Niemi and Niklas Backstrom for most in the league.

“I’m not evaluating our goaltending. I don’t need to evaluate Henrik. We know what Henrik is,” said Tortorella, as per CBSBoston.com.

Lundqvist was also stung on a Daniel Paille shot, as per Sportsnet.

“It’s my shoulder, we’ll see,” Lundqvist said after the game. “We’ll take a look at it.”