New Jersey Devils Coach Pete DeBoer and New York Rangers Coach John Tortorella have engaged in some ill-mannered discourse this season. Back in March, after the teams had a game-opening brawl, DeBoer called Tortorella a "hypocrite" for criticizing the Devils' goonish starting lineup; Torts advised DeBoer to "shut up."
After Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final on Saturday, DeBoer was asked about an elbow by Brandon Prust on Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov, for which Prust earned a hearing with the NHL on Sunday. DeBoer said: "Headhunting, plain and simple."
On Sunday, Tortorella had his chance to respond. Boy, did he, via the Star Ledger:
"Prust has played probably 300-plus games without any hearing, anything going on," Tortorella said. "He's probably one of the most honest players. I looked at (Dainius) Zubrus' elbow to (Anton) Stralman. I look at (Zach) Parise launching himself at (Michael) Del Zotto. Maybe if our players stay down on the ice, we'll get something. We tell our players don't stay down on the ice, get up."
Here's the Parise hit, via SNY Rangers blog:
Was he leaping into Del Zotto? Leaping to avoid Del Zotto's skate wedged against the boards? Hard to tell from the clip.
What else are the Devils doing to break the rules? Picking like a bluegrass band on the power play, according to Torts.
"Set plays, picking on the power play," he said. "If we're going 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."
He was talking about the play on Kovalchuk's goal in Game 2, when the Devils forward found himself with an open side of the ice, saying Dan Girardi was picked. He also said Ryan Callahan was picked in Game 3.
"It's a set play," Tortorella said. "They know we're trying to block shots from a pretty good shooter right now. It happened to Danny, it happened to Cally. … This is some gamesmanship right there, huh?"
Later, DeBoer had his chance to return the volley to Tortorella:
Q. John Tortorella today said that your players are trying to
embellish. He called out Parise and Zubrus for a hit on Stralman and also
picking I think on the P.K. What's your response to that?
COACH DeBOER: Comical.
Hey, wasn't Tortorella supposed to be the man of few words?
On Fire and Ice, Patrik Elias responded to the power-play pick accusation:
"Their coach suggests a lot of things," Devils forward Patrik Elias said. "What am I going to say? We play the power play just to create chances, opportunities. There's no one who holds on to their guys or anything. You get called for that. Come on.
"And we stay down too long when we get hit? You've got to look at the hits on which we stay down. A couple of them were borderline. That's all. It doesn't feel that good sometimes to get hit in the head with elbows and sticks and stuff like that. We don't have that history here as a team and nobody's trying to do that."
Game 4 is Monday night in Jersey, where the referees will work on the ice after being worked off the ice by both coaches this weekend ...