Habs Take Down Tortorella’s Rangers Again
After Tuesday night’s loss to the Habs, Rangers coach John Tortorella slagged the Habs for being “boring.” Erik Cole responded with “You can call it boring if you want. I call it two points.” Well Saturday night at the Bell Centre the Rangers lost to the “boring” Canadiens for the second time in five nights, this time 3 – 0, with Erik Cole scoring the game-winner and Carey Price earning his second shutout of the season. Mr. Tortorella, as they say, is skating on very thin ice and Lindy Ruff is looking for a job.
With Rene Bourque out with the flu, Habs coach Michel “Le Magicien” Therrien had to reach into his bag of tricks and came up with a line combination of Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Erik Cole. Therrien moved Eller back to his natural position at centre, with Galchenyuk moving to the wing. Therrien explained after the game: “We decided to put Alex on the wing. The reason why is we wanted to take away a little bit of responsibility defensively, it’s very demanding to play centre and since we’ve moved him to left wing he’s doing a good job, and Lars earned to be in the top three lines, and I gave him a role on the power-play and killing penalties. He’s an important player for us.”
Lars and Alex worked a little magic of their own on the Habs second and third goals. Eller carried the puck into the Rangers zone and turned around, blocking the Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi. With his back to the goal, Eller passed it back to Galchenyuk who was driving hard to the net. Galchenyuck’s shot hit Girardi, who had fallen, and went up and over the shoulder of Rangers goalie Marty Biron. Both Biron and Girardi complained that Eller had hit the puck with a high stick as it was in the air. The replay confirmed it not to be the case. Eller and Galchenyuk combined again on a Habs power play in the second. Showing some great puck movement, the puck went from Cole to Frankie Bouillon in the corner, out to P.K. Subban at the point, back to Galchenyuk in the other corner and out to Eller at the faceoff circle who one-timed past Biron, Cole providing a great screen.
With Brendan Gallagher back from his concussion, Therrien moved him onto a line with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty. This left Brandon Prust to fill in on the Tomas Plekanec-Brian Gionta line. Prust, who had been banged up in the Islanders game Thursday night (especially after taking on the 6’8” 250 lbs. Joe Finley), again showed his grit as he logged in 18:23 minutes of ice time, second only to Gionta for the forwards. It would have been more but he was gone for about five minutes, getting stitched up in the clinic after taking a face-wash into the boards at the hands of Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. This was just after McDonagh put Pacioretty hard into the boards from behind. Pacioretty was slow in getting up, and needed help from his teammates to get back over the boards and on to the bench.
No Suspension For Max
Four minutes later Pacioretty exacted revenge for the hit by taking a run at McDonagh in the corner, nailing him up against the glass and receiving a two-minute boarding penalty for his troubles. After the game Tortorella was incensed, “How high did Pacioretty jump on this hit? Can anyone tell me?” Perhaps Tortorella’s rant was simply trying to deflect criticism away from his team’s poor play, and his own limited time with the Rangers if they keep playing the way they have. Pacioretty stopped skating just before the hit but you’d have a hard time convincing me he jumped. McDonagh has to take some of the blame as well, as he saw Pacioretty coming and chose to turn in towards the boards. He probably would have been better off simply continuing to chase the puck. Pacioretty had a phone hearing with Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s Director of Player Safety, Sunday afternoon and Habs fans were expecting the worse as 1) Pacioretty had been suspended before for a hit onPittsburgh’s Kris Letang, 2) the hit could have been seen as retaliatory and 3) perhaps Pacioretty left his feet to make the hit. In the end, Shanahan ruled no supplementary discipline was necessary. Good call.
The Habs have a rough schedule ahead of them as eight of their next ten games are on the road, starting with the Senators in Ottawa on Monday night and then facing the Leafs in Toronto on Wednesday.