I wonder if John Tortorella, known for his brash demeanor and press conferences littered with four-letter words, knows how ironic it is that last night he scratched forward Sean Avery for Game 5 of the New York Rangers’ Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at Washington for the player’s poor discipline at the end of Game 4 and then the coach proceeded to throw a water bottle into the stands and try to get into the crowd with a stick in his hand.
Ah, that “Torts.” He looks like Fonzie but has the personality of Louie De Palma. More important, he now has a team that’s going into a must-win Game 6 back home because the odds of triumphing at the wild Verizon Center in a Game 7 are probably as slim as Tortorella winning a Mr. Congeniality award.
The Rangers still lead the best-of-seven series, 3-2, after their 4-0 defeat in D.C. The unlikely offensive hero was Matt Bradley, who during the regular season had four more fights than goals. But in Game 5, Bradley scored twice and rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov, who’s as hard to pronounce as he is to score on, made 20 saves to keep the Caps alive.
Despite the Caps’ dominating performance, the story line heading toward Sunday will now be dominated by Avery (will he play or sit?) and Tortorella (will he be suspended or have to fight a fan in a steel cage?). Whatever happens, it’s great theatre and a perfect way to fill the time until the Boston Bruins get back into action. Even the Bruins can probably get a kick out of it. And their fans can get in a few workouts before squaring off with Tortorella.
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference:
•Once a candidate to be the Bruins’ captain, Bill Guerin is providing Pittsburgh with leadership.
•The unlikely leader in plus/minus on the Philadelphia roster is Daniel Carcillo.
•Veteran center John Madden declared that New Jersey doesn’t want a Game 7 with Carolina.
•Star forward Eric Staal needs to produce even more if the Hurricanes are going to survive.