GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The six-player faceoff brawl at the opening of Monday's Rangers-Devils game "was disrespectful to players" and the sport took "a backwards step," Rangers coach John Tortorella said Tuesday, and he blamed Devils coach Peter DeBoer for "manufacturing" fights that probably would happen eventually.
After the Rangers' practice, Tortorella defended his decision to counter a starting Devils' line of heavyweights Erik Boulton, Cam Janssen and Ryan Carter with Stu Bickel, Mike Rupp and Brandon Prust, a response that triggered three fights. He also suggested that DeBoer's postgame comments were misleading and twice advised that DeBoer "just shut up."
Bad blood and retaliation has coursed through the six-game series, with first-period bouts in four of the games.
"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," DeBoer said after the Rangers won, 4-2. "He's either got short-term memory loss or he's a hypocrite."
Asked Tuesday whether those remarks were fair, Tortorella said:
"Peter needs to jog his memory about the starting lineups that I put in over in their building and really, basically, just shut up. I need to also," Tortorella said. "I think the situation [Monday] is disrespectful to players, and I think we took a backwards step. I get put in a position where he puts a lineup like that out, that I'm not sure what's going to happen if I put my top players out, so I had to answer the way I think I have to answer, but, really, just look at the two lineups and some of the things he's done through the games here."
"I said what I had to say. I didn't need a night to sleep on it to tell you my thoughts," DeBoer told reporters in Ottawa, where the Devils were playing. "I stand by what I said and we're moving on."
In only one of the three games in Newark, on Dec. 20, did the Rangers start what might be considered an "inciting" line: Rupp and Prust with Ruslan Fedotenko. The Devils countered with Janssen, who fought with Rupp just three seconds in, Tim Sestito and Boulton. On Jan. 31, Brandon Dubinsky, Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan started, and on March 6, the trio was Artem Anisimov, Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik. At the Garden on Feb. 7, Tortorella, with the home team able to match up last, countered Janssen and Boulton with Rupp and Prust and they each paired off two seconds into the game.
"Fighting's part of the game, a big part of the game, but it doesn't need to be manufactured," Tortorella said, "and Jersey and the Rangers, there was going to be fights. But it's really gotten old for me, the staged fights; nowadays in our league, if a guy gets hit hard, clean, everybody's looking to fight . . . to try to manipulate it into it, I just don't think it's right for the game . . . I'm certainly not one of the pacifists who think fighting should be out of the game, but let the players decide. I don't think coaches should be putting players in situations where it basically dictates fighting."