Dan Bylsma, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Cooke

Bylsma on Tortorella rant: “It’s part of his coaching manual to go off”

23 Comments

For the second time this week, Dan Bylsma has faced sharp criticism from an opposing coach.

And for the second time, Bylsma’s brushed it off.

That’s what transpired on Friday following Penguins practice, as the Pittsburgh head coach put John Tortorella’s comments — saying Pittsburgh was an arrogant organization — into context.

“We’ve seen that in the last week all over with gamesmanship,” Bylsma told Penguins Report. “Trying to talk to, at and through different mediums to the team, referees and who might be listening to some of the talk. That’s all it is: gamesmanship.

“They’re trying to have an effect where I’m not sure they can have an effect. I think it’s gamesmanship and they’re trying to have someone hear them. Whether it’s the referees or whom I don’t know.”

Still, Bylsma couldn’t resist giving Torts a slight shot.

“His postgame comments for a lot of games this year, we’ve heard different things from hits, starting lineups, how referees ends games,” Bylsma said. “It’s part of his coaching manual to go off.”

Known throughout his career as a cool customer, the Penguins head coach has been extra cool this past week. He didn’t bite when Flyers coach Peter Laviolette called him “gutless” after Sunday’s melee; he also kept quiet after defenseman Matt Niskanen was knocked out of  action by Boston’s Dan Paille (Paille got a charging penalty on the hit.)

The way Bylsma sees it, there’s no sense in getting caught-up in extracurricular activity.

“In every series, and the series coming up, one team will win four games, there will be a handshake,” he said. “One side will wish the other side luck in the next round. The other side will go on. That will happen on the ice. We’re going to have a whale of a series. We respect [the Flyers]. We have a great adversary.

“There is a storyline going on and it will be played out on the ice.”

Tortorella fumes over Orpik hit: “Imagine if it happened to one of their (bleeping) superstars”

Chicago Blackhawks v New York Rangers
144 Comments

The Pittsburgh Penguins can reasonably be called media darlings, but they’re far from angels. A questionable Brooks Orpik knee-to-knee hit on Derek Stepan during Pittsburgh’s 5-2 win has the New York Rangers fuming, with outspoken head coach John Tortorella leading the way.

Here’s a greatest hits collection of quotes via Steve Zipay:

“It’s one of the most arrogant organizations in the league. They whine about this stuff all the time and look what happens,” Tortorella said. “Imagine if it happened to one of their (bleepin) superstars.”

Jeez, Torts just never cuts to the core of a situation, does he? Always beating around the bush. A diplomat from birth.

Before we move on to the more specific “criticisms” of Orpik’s hit, you might want to judge it on your own. Check out video of that knee-to-knee below:

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Torts didn’t just snipe at the Penguins’ “whining” superstars, referring to Orpik’s check as a “cheap, dirty hit” while going back to the widely held point that there’s “no respect among players.” Zipay reports that Martin Biron was far from effusive about Orpik, as well.

So the natural question is: should Orpik be suspended? If so, for how long?

As Jason and Mike discussed on TV yesterday, the Penguins are already going into the highly probable Philadelphia Flyers series with some targets on their stars’ backs. (Tonight’s win assures that the Penguins will have the fourth seed.) If Pittsburgh meets the Rangers later on, they might as well just keep the bulls-eyes attached.

Here are highlights from the game:

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Check out this East update, including Pittsburgh clinching the fourth seed:

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

John Grahame back in the NHL, 25 percent rule to follow

john grahame
3 Comments

Just a few weeks after Marty Turco ended his exile by signing with the Bruins, another former goalie is returning to the league.

ESPN New York reports that John Grahame — who hasn’t played an NHL game since 2008 — has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders. The move suggests the lower-body injury suffered by Evgeni Nabokov is serious enough to sideline him for the remainder of the season (which, it should be noted, only consists of six more games.)

Grahame broke into the league with Boston during the 1999-2000 season and rose to prominence in Tampa Bay, where he backed up Nikolai Khabibulin during the 2004 Stanley Cup championship run, then emerged as the Lightning’s No. 1 following the lockout (after Khabibulin inked for big bucks in Chicago.)

Grahame won 29 games as Tampa’s starter but was ventilated by Ottawa in the playoffs. The Lightning lost the opening round in five games and Grahame finished with a .847 save percentage and 4.79 GAA, leading to John Tortorella’s infamous “25 percent rule” quote (FF to 2:14).

The 36-year-old Grahame has spent his last few years bouncing around the globe. He spent the 2008-09 season with Omsk Avangard of the KHL, then returned to North America to play with AHL outfits Adirondack and Lake Erie.

Sadly, the Isles will not play Tortorella’s Rangers again this year.

Columnist: Tortorella has to stop dumping on Dubinsky

Dubinsky Stache
5 Comments

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.

DeBoer doesn’t back down from Tortorella critique; Brodeur loves it

deboergetty
4 Comments

New Jersey Devils head coach Peter DeBoer seems like he wants to move on from the entertaining fall-out from the riotous set of fights that began last night’s game against the New York Rangers.

That doesn’t mean he’s just going to bow down to John Tortorella’s pressure, though, as he certainly didn’t do that when asked follow-up questions by Rich Chere.

“We’ve moved on. I said what I had to say last night and I didn’t need a night to sleep on it to tell you my thoughts,” DeBoer said. “I stand by what I said and we’re moving on to play Ottawa.”

Want a little more, though? Apparently his team loves the fact that the first-year coach is embracing the bitter local rivalry, particularly Martin Brodeur, a veteran of that feud.

“I like that part of it because I think that’s what rivalries are all about,” Brodeur said. “For Pete to stand up for what he did or what Tortorella did I think is a good sign because it means you care about the opponent you play against. You get to hate them and, as a player you want everybody to be on board.

“For me being here so long you get to dislike teams and you want everybody on board. Pete is new to this. He’s new to the rivalry. We’ve had our share of success against those guys this year, there’s no doubt about that. We finished .500 in the six-game series against the top team in our conference. You’ve got to be happy about that. It’s pretty good.”

Say what you will about those “staged” fights, but the reactions to that scenario have been as enthralling as any round of fisticuffs. One could call it a lively round of verbal sparring, if you really want to be cute about it.

It’s not impossible for a Rangers-Devils series – particularly if both teams win first round series in their current situations – so we could all potentially delight in replaying these comments in the future.

Really, it would be a waste if the two teams don’t get to see each other again before next season, wouldn’t it?