Michael Del Zotto: Latest member of Tortorella’s doghouse


There’s a segment of the New York Rangers fan base that doesn’t agree with the notion that Michael Del Zotto has improved his defense all that much since his up-and-down rookie season. In Game 4, it appeared that John Tortorella agreed.

After receiving 7:28 time on ice in the first period, Del Zotto played in just one shift in the second period (1:40) and four in third (for 2:31). It’s pretty easy to see why MDZ was warming the bench as he was guilty of some glaring lapses on defense, which was a point made most abundantly clear when Zach Parise embarrassed him to set up Travis Zajac’s 2-0 eventual game-winner:

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That segment of Rangers fans often call him “Del Zaster,”* although the exact spelling might range depending upon the angry message boards/Twitter feeds you frequent. Del Zotto registered a secondary assist on the Rangers’ only goal so perhaps he will get a chance to redeem himself, but there was no mistaking how Tortorella felt. Along with sitting on the bench, MDZ served one of Mike Rupp’s roughing penalties because the tough guy was booted from the game.

Voice your opinion on what Tortorella should do with MDZ, then. Should he be a scratch? Should he get Stu Bickell-type minutes or go back to his typical, healthy amount of minutes?

* Joke-killing clarification: “disaster.”

Video: Tortorella screams at DeBoer as Rangers-Devils gets heated

John Tortorella

While this clip doesn’t quite match Peter Laviolette standing on the bench screaming at the Pittsburgh Penguins, it will probably be the most talked-about moment of Game 4 between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. Anyone who thought that talk of increasing hatred was just hot air was silenced tonight as John Tortorella went out of his way to yell at rival head coach Peter DeBoer after the two teams engaged in a wild scrum:

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Go ahead, say it: that was rather comical. If nothing else, Tortorella and DeBoer are embracing the hate in this rivalry.

In case you’re interested, here is the penalty summary from that exchange:


Mike Rupp: two seperate roughing minors (including one for shoving Martin Brodeur) and a 10-minute game misconduct
Stu Bickell: two minutes for roughing Ryan Carter and a 10-minute game misconduct


Ryan Carter: 10-minute game misconduct

(Note: Carter and Bickell also really, really don’t like each other.)

Tortorella says Devils are bending rules, DeBoer calls accusations “comical”

John Tortorella

The passive-aggressive war of words Rangers coach John Tortorella and Devils coach Peter DeBoer are having is pretty fantastic.

We saw these two snipe at each other late in the season after their final regular season game saw numerous fights in the opening seconds. DeBoer called Tortorella a hypocrite over the line brawl while Tortorella told DeBoer to go stuff it. The playoffs are proving to be no different.

During his meet-up with the media this morning, Tortorella deflected talk of Brandon Prust’s nasty elbow to the head of Anton Volchenkov to talk up the different things the Devils are doing that are against the rules.

“Prust has played probably 300-plus games without any hearing, anything going on with him. He’s probably one of the most honest players,” Tortorella said. “I look at Zubrus’ elbow to Stralman. I look at Parise launching himself at Del Zotto. Maybe if our players stayed down on the ice, we’ll get something.

“We tell our players don’t stay down on the ice. Get up. I hope – I’ll leave it at that. Picking on the power play, set plays, picking on the power play. If we want to start discussing officials with the media, I have a long list here. That’s a set play by Jersey. Picking so we can’t get to Kovalchuk to block a shot.”

If you’re counting at home that’s two hits called out and a not-so veiled insinuation that the Devils are embellishing as well as interfering to get their way.

As for Peter DeBoer, he was asked about Tortorella’s comments after this morning’s practice and did his best Tortorella impression when addressing it saying the accusations were, “Comical.”

It might be time to rent a barn for these two and have it out. The handshake line at the end of this series should be nice and frosty.

Tortorella looking ahead to Game 3: “it simply comes down to a little bit of will and a mindset”

Callahan hit

Seriously, does this guy ever stop talking? Rangers coach John Tortorella was rambling away again in today’s conference call with reporters. Key quotes are below.

On the positives he saw from his team during last night’s 3-2 loss to New Jersey:

“To be honest with you, not many. I thought we played some minutes in the second period, found a way to score some power-play goals. But other than that, we didn’t play enough minutes.”

If sitting certain players during games is meant to send a message (Note: the reporter never specifically referenced Marian Gaborik, but given Gaborik barely played the third period, it’s pretty clear what this was about):

“Some guys when you just don’t think it’s working, they don’t see the ice or they don’t get the minutes. So those are decisions that we make every game. You guys like calling them benchings and all that stuff, but as coaches we’re trying to find a way to win a hockey game, and we make decisions accordingly.”

On what the Rangers need to do Saturday in Game 3:

“I think there are some corrections in our game we have to make, but I also think at this time of the year I know everybody likes talking about adjustments. But it simply comes down to a little bit of will and a mindset.”

On how his team can score more goals:

“I think we’re looking to get more consistent offensively, at least with our forecheck to develop some offense going into these two games here in the series.”

On limiting distractions as the playoffs progress and more attention is paid to the team:

“We’re concerned about our locker room. We’re trying to close that down and just take care of business ourselves there. We really don’t spend too much time worrying about what you guys are speaking about, and that’s certainly not trying to be disrespectful, but we certainly don’t. We have a lot of things that we have in our room that we have to fix, that we have to deal with, and really block out all the other stuff.”

Poll: Do the Rangers look tired to you?

Tortorella on playoffs: “This is where your legacy is made”

John Tortorella

John Tortorella is a big reason why this New York Rangers team has (seemingly) overachieved more often than not under his watch. Still, his fondest coaching memories likely came during his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning, when he helped them win a Stanley Cup. Torts reflected on the effect big playoff wins can have, as he told ESPN’s Katie Strang.

“This is where your legacy is made, the playoffs,” Tortorella said.

Tortorella is notorious for … frosty press conferences, so his post-Game 7 spiel was relatively verbose. He shared his philosophy on home ice advantage (it’s “garbage” until Game 7 rolls around) and praised his team’s efforts in the third period, calling it one of their best.

Most Rangers players tempered their enthusiasm with the inevitable “we’re not done yet” caveat, but it’s pretty clear from the locker room and press conference commentaries that the Rangers are happy with their efforts.

One could argue that they’ll need a more consistent output in the Eastern Conference finals, however, as they’ll face their division rivals the New Jersey Devils, who are hotter and more talented than their No. 6 seed would suggest.

(They also have quite the legacy of their own.)