A blog focusing on the New York Rangers and all things hockey (also Yankees and Giants) with a New York attitude from a fan of 40 years whose greatest highlight came when Mark Messier lifting the Stanley Cup on June 14, 1994
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This has to be the most bizarre stat of the playoffs:
In odd-numbered games (1, 3, 5 and 7) the Rangers are 9-1 with the only loss being their game five defeat to Ottawa in the first round.
In even-numered games (2, 4 and 6), however, the Rangers are 1-6 with their only win being their game six victory in Ottawa.
Only once have the Rangers won consecutive games in any series and that was their wins in games six and seven against the Senators.
On Monday, the Rangers will be without forward Brandon Prust, who was suspended one game for for his elbow to the back of the head of Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov.
New York coach John Tortorella did not say who would replace Prust in the lineup.
Brandon Dubinsky skated in practice on Sunday for the first time since suffering a right foot injury in game seven against the Senators, but the Rangers likely will use Stu Bickel or Steve Eminger in Prust's absence.
Devils coach Peter DeBoer called the incident "head-hunting. Plain and simple."
That prompted a harsh response from Tortorella following Sunday's practice as he ripped into the Devils' tactics, starting with two incidents involving New Jersey players -- a hit from Dainius Zubrus on Anton Stralman in the first period and Zach Parise's hit on Michael Del Zotto in the third.
"I look at Zubrus' elbow to Stralman, I look at Parise launching himself into Del Zotto," Tortorella said. "Maybe if our players stay down on the ice, we'll get something."
Tortorella, who has been fined $50,000 this season for twice criticizing the officials, also accused the Devils are using moving screens to free up Ilya Kovalchuk while on the power play.
"The picking on the power play, set plays, picking on the power play. We want to start discussing officials with the media, I have a long list here," he said. "That's a set play by Jersey, picking so we can't get to Kovalchuk to block a shot. You want some more ...?"
Tortorella and DeBoer engaged in a heated exchange during the teams' final regular seson game on March 19. That game featured a brawl in which six players were involved in fights just three seconds following the opening faceoff.
Given the animosity between the rivals, the series has been relatively tame in terms of the physical play. We're
actually not terribly surprised. There is too much -- a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals -- at stake.