|Rangers’ Brad Richards a healthy scratch for Game 4||05.23.13 at 11:53 am ET|
NEW YORK — With the Rangers on the brink of elimination, John Tortorella is sitting embattled center Brad Richards, the slumping scorer revealed Thursday after staying out on the ice following the team’s morning skate.
Richards, who is earning $12 million this season in the second year of his nine-year, $60 million deal (carrying a cap hit of $6.66 million), has skated on the fourth line in the first three games of the conference semifinals against the Bruins. He has no goals this postseason after scoring 11 in the regular season.
Richards said Tortorella called him Thursday morning to tell him he would not be playing.
|John Tortorella has no use for a pregame press conference||at 11:00 am ET|
NEW YORK — Maybe it’s the pressure of being down 3-0 to a superior team. Maybe it’s the fact he knows his team is cooked. Or maybe, just maybe, John Tortorella has absolutely nothing of value to say to reporters hours before a game that could end his season and his tenure with the Rangers.
Whatever the reason, Tortorella needed just 19 seconds Thursday to dismiss any questions from reporters before his team’s morning skate here at Madison Square Garden.
Reporters asked just two questions and then became hushed.
Here were the two questions and answers:
Any update on defenseman Anton Stralman, after he was knocked out of Game 3 in the third period?
“No. No updates,” Tortorella said.
What do you tell your team before a game like this?
“I’ve talked to them. I don’t need to talk about it here,” he responded.
After six seconds of silence, Tortorella uttered the word “OK” and exited stage right.
Game 4 is Thursday night (CNBC, 7 p.m.).
|Bruins can’t ease up with series lead like they did in first round||05.21.13 at 1:40 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Did the Bruins learn their lesson in the first round?
The lesson that they, as a Cup-winning team that had been embarrassed by a blown 3-0 series in the past, probably didn’t need taught to them? The lesson that nearly led to them being eliminated by Toronto and having their roster and coaching staff shaken up?
The lesson, of course, is that you never take a lead in a series for granted. You don’t go up in a series and assume that it’s won, and you don’t give your opponent any chance to get back in the series. The Bruins broke all those rules in the first round against the Maple Leafs, when they took a 3-1 lead and let Toronto force a seventh game with consecutive wins.
It took a monumental collapse from the Maple Leafs late in Game 7 for the Bruins to survive that and get through to the second round. Now that they’ve taken a 2-0 series lead on the Rangers, that killer instinct that wasn’t there before needs to start kicking in.
“I think we need to be aware with them being down, 2-0, and realize that they’re going to be a lot better,” Daniel Paille said Tuesday. “We felt that we had two strong games, but we can always improve. We don’t want to do too much, just add a little bit more effort and add a little bit more grit.”
Keep in mind that the Rangers dropped the first two games of their first-round series against the Capitals before storming back and winning it in seven. They’ve been in this position before and they’ve survived it, so the B’s had better expect a big push from John Tortorella‘s squad.
“We don’t want to lose two games here,” the Rangers coach said after New York dropped Game 2 on Sunday. “No one does. But there’s no give in the team. There will be no give in this team. Again, we need to go win a game. Not look anywhere else, just try to win our first home game this series.”
The good news for the Bruins is that they have swept two of the last three series in which they’ve held a 2-0 lead. They swept the Canadiens in 2009 and swept the Flyers in 2011, but sandwiched in there was their embarrassing seven-game elimination against the Flyers after holding a 3-0 series lead. While they haven’t won the first two games of a series since sweeping the Flyers, the only time they’ve held a two-game lead in a series since was this month against the Maple Leafs.
That means two of the last four series in which the B’s have held a two-game lead have resulted in sweeps, but the other two series have gone to seven games. They lost one of those series and they should have lost the other, so the B’s shouldn’t feel too satisfied just because they’ve got some breathing room.
“Obviously this is a huge game for both teams,” Chris Kelly said. “Killer instinct? I think we just want to go out and play well, play a solid 60 minutes and worry about our game and see what happens.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘Those defensemen are playing unbelievable’||05.20.13 at 10:16 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the B’s-Rangers series.
The Bruins took a 2-0 series lead with Sunday’s 5-2 victory, as Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers continued to play below par.
“I think they had their chances, to tell you the truth,” Thornton said. “I think the second period, it could have went either way. We were fortunate to get out of that with the lead. It could have been a different game if Tuukka [Rask] didn’t stand on his head for us in the second period.”
The big story of this series has been the play of the Bruins’ young defensemen, Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton, who have sparked the Bruins with their fresh legs.
“Those defensemen are playing unbelievable,” Thornton said. “Torey Krug, obviously — not just the goal and the assist, those are great plays — but there were some plays he made that probably went unnoticed during the game that made our lives as forwards a heck of a lot easier. Some of the vision he has and some of the plays he made look easy, but they weren’t really easy plays, especially in the neutral zone.”
“I don’t know what the timeline is for those guys, but I’m sure Claude [Julien] will have some decisions to make once everyone’s healthy,” Thornton said. “Not easy decisions, I’m sure, but good decisions. It’s nice when you have that many options. It’s better than the opposite, when you’re like, ‘Oh, my God, we can’t find anyone to put in the lineup.’ ”
As for the possibility of hard feelings if a veteran sits in favor of a rookie, Thornton insisted it won’t be issue.
“Not in our locker room,” he said. “I’ve been that veteran guy squeezed out of the lineup for the playoffs. It’s all about winning this time of year. There’s no time for any personal feelings or agendas. It’s all about the team. We have a good bunch of guys in that room, and everyone’s aware of it.”
|Barry Pederson on D&C: Rangers’ shot-blocking style causing problems for Henrik Lundqvist||at 9:45 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss the Bruins’ strong start to their series against the Rangers. Boston holds a 2-0 series lead following Sunday’s 5-2 victory.
The Bruins have been rejuvenated by the play of young defensemen Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton.
“I think right now they’re showing some signs of [being a better team with the rookies], just because of the element that these three young kids have brought, which is mobility, speed, I think right now playing with a lack of fear, a lot of confidence,” Pederson said. “But you can really see it, to me, from their offensive side. What I mean by that, a lot of times throughout the year when the offense has been struggling, everybody always points at the forwards. And vice versa, when the defensive game is struggling, everybody always point to the defense. I’ve always been a firm believer that your defense creates your offense, and your forwards create your defense.
“So, these guys are doing a really good job, to me, by jumping into plays, recognizing when there are outnumbered opportunities to make it a three-on-two, a four-on-three. Hamilton did a good job of that yesterday as well as Bartkowski and Krug. For now they’re doing I think a really good job of creating some offense and ‘¦ they are bringing a little bit of speed and mobility that maybe the Bruins have not had back there in a while.”
With the strong play by the rookies, it’s led to a discussion about what coach Claude Julien will do if and when injured veterans Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden are ready to return. Pederson said he does not anticipate a problem in the locker room.
“The guys recognize what this is all about, is trying to win hockey games,” he said. “It’s one of those problems that you love to have. ‘¦ You can never have enough good, young defensemen, because they’re first of all hard to come by. And it’s a situation where these guys right now are playing this way. We’ll see how things go when you go into a more hostile environment in New York.”
Added Pederson: “I think if I had to look at how I would rank them, the rookies being taken out, starting with the first guy, I would probably take a look at Hamilton, it would probably go Krug, and then last would be Bartkowski to be removed from the lineup when and if they came back.
“If Redden was the first guy back, I’m not so sure if I would make a move quite yet. These guys have, I think, kind of earned an opportunity to continue. If it was Dennis Seidenberg who was healthy, there’s no doubt that he’s coming back immediately. I just don’t get a sense with Ference that he’s even that close, but again we don’t know anything about the injuries, so we’ll have to wait and see.”
|John Tortorella on 2-0 hole to Bruins: ‘There’s no give’ in Rangers||05.19.13 at 7:44 pm ET|
There were no FCC violations during his postgame presser. There were no explosions. There was a little agitation with one reporter’s question, but other than that, John Tortorella demonstrated good behavior after his team was dismantled 5-2 in Game 2 Sunday at TD Garden. The loss puts his Rangers in a 2-0 series hole, but it’s a familiar spot for Tortorella’s Rangers, who were down 2-0 to the Capitals before Henrik Lundqvist got hot and the Rangers won four of the next five to save their season.
“Listen, we don’t want to lose two games here,” the Rangers taskmaster said. “No one does. But there’s no give in the team. There will be no give in this team. Again, we need to go win a game. Not look anywhere else, just try to win our first home game this series.”
What gave Torts hope that his team can rebound in Game 3 Tuesday night in New York?
“If you’re talking about the latter part of the first, second period, I think that’s the way we have to play. And I think we can. I think we can sustain that,” Tortorella said.
The Rangers outshot the Bruins 16-9 in the second period and had three shots on a power play that now is 2-for-34 in the playoffs. But then the Rangers allowed a goal from Johnny Boychuk on a wrister to the left of Lundqvist and a two-on-one breakdown goal to Brad Marchand 26 seconds into the third that left Tortorella shaking his head.
“The third and fourth goals are defendable,” Tortorella said. “We made coverage mistakes. Our second period is where we want to be. We can’t put it in the net. We had multiple chances. We felt really good going into the third, and to have that type of goal go in on just a two-on-two, it hurts you. And then they’re just going to fill the middle and they’re just going to jam you, so we couldn’t generate much more.”
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|John Tortorella: ‘We got spanked’ by Bruins in OT||05.17.13 at 2:24 am ET|
No one tells it like it is quite like John Tortorella, especially after a kick-in-the-gut loss like his Rangers experienced Thursday night at the hands of the Bruins in overtime.
The Bruins manhandled the Rangers in overtime, outshooting them 16-5, with the final shot coming off the stick of Brad Marchand 15:40 into overtime and delivering the Bruins a 3-2 win in Game 1. Six of those 16 shots came on one power play when the Bruins took complete charge and didn’t let go.
“In the overtime? We never regrouped,” Tortorella said. “It was a surge. We couldn’t stop it.
Still, the Rangers had their chances. They scored on a Ryan McDonough slap shot with 1.3 seconds left in the second period to tie the game. They scored just 14 seconds into the third and had a lead. But Torey Krug scored his first career playoff goal in his first career playoff game two minutes later on the power play, tying the game, 2-2.
“We were OK,” Tortorella said. “We’re going to need to be better. If we’re going to win our next game here we need to be better.”
Before getting outshot in overtime, Tortorella felt his team was hanging in with the Bruins on the road in Game 1. But Tortorella, like he normally does, put everything in perspective.
“I thought it was pretty even going into the overtime,” Tortorella said. “But we got spanked in the overtime.”
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