Monday, January 2, 2012

Tortorella Accuses Refs of Trying To Fix Game For Flyers

New York Rangers coach John Tortorella enjoyed that his team rallied to win the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 3-2, but that did not stop Tortorella from commenting on the questionable officiating down the stretch of the game. Via Puck Daddy:
"I'm not sure if NBC got together with the refs," said Tortorella, after the Rangers' 3-2 victory on Monday, regarding Ian Walsh and Dennis LaRue.
"It started with the non-call [when] Gabby was pitch-forked in the stomach, and then everything starts going against us. They're two good referees; I thought the game was referred horribly. So I'm not sure what happened there. Maybe they wanted to get it to an overtime. I'm not sure if they have meetings about that or what. But we stood in there. They're good guys. But in that third period, it was disgusting."
Tortorella will likely get fined for his comments, but the series of calls within the last five minutes of the game were disgraceful. Starting with the delay of game penalty that was called against Ryan McDonagh at 14:48 when he was clearly pushed into Rangers’ net by van Riemsdyk the Rangers seemed to be played an uphill battle.
At 18:54, Ryan Callahan was taken down by Kimmo Timonen in the neutral zone while the Flyers net was empty, but instead of the Rangers being on the power play coincidental minors were called. Finally, at 19:40, there was the call on McDonagh for apparently covering his hand on the puck in the crease which gave Briere the penalty shot opportunity.

Rangers Rally To Take Winter Classic 3-2

The New York Rangers rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in the 2012 Winter Classic.  Henrik Lundqvist was again the key for the Rangers as he stopped 33 shots during regular play and a Daniel Briere penalty shot with 19.6 seconds left to preserve the win.  The penalty shot was called when Ryan McDonagh dove into the crease to prevent a loose puck from going in, but was called for covering the puck in the crease.  Replays showed that McDonagh definitely had his near the puck, but there was no clear evidence that he covered it with his hand as opposed to sliding it under the down Lundqvist.

Lundqvist main help on the day came from 2011 free agent signings Mike Rupp and Brad Richards.  Rupp scored two goals to give the Rangers both life and then tie the game before Richards scored the eventual game-winner.  Rupp’s first goal came late in the second period when he beat Sergei Bobrovsky from the slot.  Rupp followed the goal with some serious gamesmanship by imitating Jaromir Jagr’s goal salute (video). 

Early in the third Rupp beat Bobrovsky again, this time shortside from a weak angle.  The Rangers kept the pressure up and following the work of Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky, Richards gave the Rangers the lead at 5:21.  Richards was alone at the side of the net when Claude Giroux assumed Callahan was going to cycle the puck behind the net, but instead Callahan went to Dubinsky in front for the initial shot.

The two Philadelphia goals came just 1:55 apart in the second period.  The first was Brayden Schenn’s first NHL goal when he was wide-open to convert on a rebound after Henrik Lundqvist appeared to never see the initial shot from Matt Carle. 

The second goal was Claude Giroux breaking in on a 2-on-1 with Talbot and going backhand top shelf right under the bar.  The Giroux goal was on a similar play to one that Lundqvist stopped early in the first by poke-checking the Flyers’ best player.  Giroux appeared to learn from that experience by making his move earlier and roofing the shot from further out.
  • Marc Staal was a mixed bag in his 12:41 of ice time.  Staal was beaten a few times in the second period where the rust was most evident, but he was good during a late third period penalty kill while Ryan McDonagh was in the box.
  • Rupp showed today that he loves the big stage and has plenty to bring the Rangers even in a limited role.  Many Rangers fans have written him off after his slow start, but today will likely buy him a lot of credit.
  • Callahan and Dubinsky were hitting anything and everything today with 21 combined hits

Video: Mike Rupp Does Jagr Saltue After Winter Classic Goal

During the second period of 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic Rangers' forward Mike Rupp added a little more heat to the storied rivalry between the two franchises when he imitated Jaromir Jagr's salute goal celebration.  Entering Monday's Winter Classic Rupp had 50 career goals in 511 NHL games while Jagr had 658 career goals and 972 career assists over the course of his prestigious career. 

Rangers Marc Staal To Play In Winter Classic

After missing the first 36 games of the 2011-12 season dealing with concussion issues, Rangers defenseman Marc Staal will make his debut in today's Winter Classic game.  Dan Rosen at reports that Staal will be paired with Bickel which means that Jeff Woywitka will be scratched.

Interesting to see Staal being put in the lineup today to say he is healthy enough to play, but Tortorella easing him back in on the third pairing with Bickel.  A healthy Staal is a huge boost to the first place Rangers so hopefully he is fully ready and has no further issues with his head.