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Tortorella on Del Zotto: “He’ll bounce back”

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Michael Del Zotto landed in John Tortorella’s doghouse in Game 4, but it might only be a temporary stay. Tortorella was supportive of the New York Rangers defenseman after he struggled mightily in a 4-1 Game 4 defeat.

“Yeah, it was a struggle for him,” Tortorella said. “He hasn’t had many games like that this year. And we figure — I have an extra D dressed. We figured we’d take a little pressure off him, let him — just let him watch it, and Michael has gone through a great process. He’s a big part of our club. He’ll bounce back.”

The Rangers might just need him – warts and all. Even when New York is winning, the team struggles to produce consistent offense. They’ve received some key contributions from blueliners in the playoffs – Del Zotto had a huge goal in Game 7 against the Washington Capitals, for one – so his offensive instincts are valuable.

Del Zotto is reportedly dealing with a death in his family, so it’s been a tough time for the young defenseman. Tortorella’s support might just pay off with a bounce-back game, then.

DeBoer, Tortorella deflect questions about yelling match

John Tortorella
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Pierre McGuire said that he needed to mute his microphone when John Tortorella and Peter DeBoer exchanged words during Game 4. That’s probably the most context we’re going to receive regarding the New Jersey Devils’and New York Rangers head coaches’ exchange – at least for a while – as both bench bosses went the “no comment” route during press conferences tonight.

Here’s another look at that brief argument, if you’re a fantastic lip reader.

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Since the two coaches aren’t expressing themselves, let’s take a quick look back at a rapidly building rivalry.

When the teams engaged in a steady stream of fights during the regular season, DeBoer bashed Tortorella for putting his ruffians on the ice while Torts critiqued DeBoer’s memory. Things were (relatively) quiet in the series until Game 3, when Torts complained about Devils players “staying down” on the ice to get calls. DeBoer called Tortorella’s comments “comical,” which provided plenty of comedy for hockey fans waiting in between contests.

Tonight’s antics provide the highlight clip of the rivalry, yet it’s not exactly the first time they’ve “expressed pleasantries.” The odds seem high that this won’t be the last time, either.

Michael Del Zotto: Latest member of Tortorella’s doghouse

zoomedinmdz
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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
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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:

Rangers

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

Devils

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
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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.