What have we here? Two bitter rivals in close proximity? Check. Mutual hatred amongst fans? Check. Opposing players criticizing one another in the media? Check. And now, it seems, the head coaches aren't exactly the best of friends, either.
The Rangers and Devils played the last of three recently spirited matchups tonight to close out their season series, and started it off with a bang. A trifecta of fights just three seconds into the action got things going, followed shortly by Brandon Dubinsky's goal en route to a 4-2 Rangers victory.
Stu Bickel and Ryan Carter made a bloody mess of each other while Cam Janssen, Brandon Prust, Mike Rupp and Eric Boulton all danced simultaneously. It made for quite the site on television:
Blueshirts coach John Tortorella, though, made his displeasure with Devils bench boss Peter DeBoer known immediately following the early-game frecas. Tortorella was seen on NBC Sports Network profanely screaming at DeBoer, suggesting he, um, kindly go back from whence he came. Here's video of the fisticuffs:
After the game, DeBoer wondered why it seemed to be the case that he was being criticized for doing the same thing Tortorella had done at the Prudential Center just days ago (courtesy of Peter Botte of The New York Daily News via Twitter):
"I guess in John's world you can come into our building and start your tough guys, but we can't do the same in here. He's either got short term memory loss or he's a hypocrite."
Tortorella declined to respond to DeBoer's comments or speak about the festivities in the first few seconds, but he did say he was thrilled with the way his team responded. Of course he is, they won.
For those who are unfamiliar with the rules, the head coach of the visiting team must post his starting lineup first. Upon seeing that DeBoer was interested in sending a message by starting with his goons, Tortorella apparently grew angry and started to rip off his suit and transform into a giant, mysterious green creature.
"He was not happy with their starting lineup, and he got us going pretty good in here," Henrik Lundqvist said of Tortorella to reporters after the game. "When Torts saw their starting lineup, he changed a little bit on our starting lineup."
That he did. Bickel, a defenseman by trade who claimed he had never taken a faceoff in his career, professional or otherwise, was moved to the middle to square off with Carter. You may remember Carter as the guy who bopped Dubinsky last week for his comments on New Jersey winger David Clarkson. Still following? Me neither.
Bickel centered Brandon Prust and Mike Rupp in a move that certainly wasn't made to promote offense. But hey, at least he won the faceoff.
The Rangers clinched a playoff berth with the win and earned a split of the season series with New Jersey. That's right, each team won three games. So after all that, the teams separated by the Hudson still haven't decided a thing. Ugh. Now what?
Well, let's see. Wrestlemania is coming up in about two weeks. Something tells me neither coach would object to a steel cage match right about now.
@CollegeWolf Thanks! And yeah, if it was anything, it was definitely entertaining. We've already seen a few instances of rivalries we wouldn't mind being played out over a seven-game series. This is definitely one of them!