John Tortorella, Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle

Tortorella passes on ‘critiquing players’ such as Rich Nash

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Win or especially lose, the question after most New York Rangers playoff games is: what will head coach John Tortorella say? (Or sometimes, “how unpleasantly will he not say something?”)

Following the Rangers’ 2-1 OT loss to the Washington Capitals in Game 5 on Friday, Tortorella took the high road … kind of. He was at least non-specific when asked about Rick Nash’s struggles, according to the Bergen Record’s Andrew Gross.

“I’m not critiquing players,” Tortorella said.

He did critique plays, however, calling Brian Boyle’s slash on Mike Ribeiro a “dumb penalty.”

“It’s a dumb penalty and you don’t kill that off,” Tortorella said. “He’s a guy that’s playing well but it’s a dumb penalty”

Tortorella didn’t want to badmouth Nash and he didn’t want to call Game 6 an elimination game.

“I’m not going to use that word,” Tortorella said. “We’ll go home and try to win a game.”

Whatever you want to call it.

Tortorella: Rangers ‘almost paralyzed’ on power play

John Tortorella
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The New York Rangers haven’t been blown out in their games against the Washington Capitals, but the fact is they’re still heading home down 2-0 in their first-round series. At this point, one of the most blatant areas of concern for the Rangers moving forward is their special teams.

Through two games they’ve only killed 71.4% of their penalties and have failed to score a power-play goal despite seven opportunities.

“We’re just too stagnant,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said in his very brief postgame press conference. “We’re almost paralyzed.”

This isn’t a problem that’s unique to this series for the Rangers. They had a 15.7% success rate with the man advantage in the regular season, which put them in the bottom third of the league in that regard. The Rangers were a middle of the road team when it came to killing penalties, although they were among the best in the league when it came to staying out of the sin bin in the first place.

Overall, the Rangers have scored only one goal in this series and squandered goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s performance this afternoon.

Lundqvist finished the game disappointed, but still optimistic about the Rangers’ chances.

“We can beat this team. There’s no question. We’re right there,” he said, according to the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti.

In other news, if you want to see Tortorella’s complete press conference, you can do so below. Don’t worry, it won’t take too much of your time:

Tortorella: ‘We can’t take that many penalties’

John Tortorella
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The Washington Capitals carried much of the play in a 3-1 Game 1 win against the New York Rangers on Thursday. The theme of the losing team’s post-game comments was clear, though: they believe it’s crucial to avoid Washington’s dangerous power play.

John Tortorella made that point clear to the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti.

“We can’t take that many penalties in a game,” Tortorella said. They get a good bounce off the boards, but you just can’t take two in a row.”

“Hopefully, we’ll discipline ourselves the next game.”

Captain Ryan Callahan echoed those thoughts.

“Against a power play like that, if you’re killing that much, eventually they’re going to capitalize,” Callahan said.

Then again, maybe it’s about execution. The Capitals converted one of their five power-play chances while the Rangers failed on their four attempts.

Many point to Washington’s ability to kill a 5-on-3 as just as much of a turning point. Henrik Lundqvist touched on that with Gulitti:

“They kill it off and they get a couple quick goals, so obviously it changed a lot,” Lundqvist said.

Tortorella: ‘Don’t give me any [expletive]’ about Gaborik relationship

John Tortorella
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Rangers head coach John Tortorella isn’t happy about how his relationship with Marian Gaborik is being portrayed.

On Tuesday, he decided to address the issue.

“Don’t give me any [expletive] about my relationship with Gabby,” he told reporters at the end of his media availability. “Because it’s wrong and unfair to both of us.”

This latest rant stems from the trade that sent Gaborik to Columbus in exchange for Derick Brassard, John Moore and Derek Dorsett.

Tortorella’s upset his endorsement of the deal is being portrayed as a shot at Gaborik:

Gaborik was slumping at the time of the deal — just nine goals in 35 games with a minus-8 rating — and seemed to be at odds with his head coach.

Of course, acrimony between Gaborik and Tortorella was nothing new.

From the New York Times:

Gaborik was often benched by Coach John Tortorella or relegated to the third line. He and Tortorella had an up-and-down relationship, with Tortorella expressing deep frustration with Gaborik or praising him lavishly.

Soon after joining the Rangers during the 2008-9 season, Tortorella lobbied to sign Gaborik as a free agent. Glen Sather, the club’s president and general manager, accomplished that before the 2009-10 season.

But last season, with the Rangers trailing by a goal during the third period of Game 2 of the conference finals against the Devils, Tortorella benched Gaborik for making a defensive error.

“On the second goal, I didn’t get the puck out, I guess,” Gaborik said. “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him.”

The move to Columbus seemed to invigorate Gaborik, further fueling speculation he was unhappy under Torts. The Slovak sniper had eight points in 12 games with the Blue Jackets, posting a plus-five rating.

That said, Tortorella has stated on numerous occasions that he not only respected and liked Gaborik, but that he would miss him as well.

“Gabby and I have a great relationship,” he told NHL.com. “It’s a really good one, no matter what’s gone on with him. He’s a good man. And I’ll miss him.

“I’ll tell you right now – I’ll miss him.”

In a related story, the Rangers will open the playoffs on Thursday against the Capitals.

Lundqvist stops 48 vs. ‘Canes; Tortorella: “Best I’ve seen him play”

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The New York Rangers were out-shot by the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night and, at times, outplayed.

But thanks to Henrik Lundqvist, they weren’t outscored.

Lundqvist stopped 48 of 49 shots in a virtuoso performance as the Rangers beat the ‘Canes 4-1 in Raleigh, earning high praise from head coach John Tortorella.

“That’s the best I’ve seen him play since I’ve been here,” Tortorella told the New York Daily News.

Torts has been the bench boss in New York since Feb. 2009, and it’s hard to argue with his assessment of Lundqvist’s play. The Swedish ‘tender stopped all 14 shots faced in both the first and second periods before stopping 20 of 21 in the final frame — only Zac Dalpe’s snapshot got by.

The Rangers got goals from Derek Stepan, Ryan Callahan, Rick Nash and Brian Boyle to secure their third win in four games. The victory put them into seventh in the Eastern Conference, tied on 42 points with the Islanders but ahead of their in-state rivals thanks to fewer games played.

Following the contest, Lundqvist reflected on his busy night with a bit of humor for reporters.

“I’m so tired I don’t know what to say right now,” he said, laughing. “Short answers today.”

Update

Here’s more on Lundqvist’s performance from his Rangers teammate, Arron Asham, via Twitter: