After Marc Staal tripped Alex Burrows following a vicious spear to the groin from the Vancouver forward, John Tortorella defended his player, saying, "If I'm Marc Staal, I retaliate. I try to break his ankle or something like that.''

In a battle in front of the Rangers' net at 14:53 of the second period, replays showed Burrows jammed his stick into Staal, who tripped Burrows and was sent to the box alone.

"It's ridiculous. It's dangerous," said Tortorella, who still was livid after an animated discussion with referees Dave Jackson and Marcus Vinnerborg.

"The thing that bothers me is, how don't you see it? And that's what was told to me. That's what agitated me, that they didn't see it. That's a dangerous play on Marc Staal. It's just beyond me how two guys, one guy in the corner and one guy in the neutral zone, can't see it. And we end up down, which usually happens if you retaliate."

Boogaard 'not close'

Derek Boogaard, out with a concussion since Dec. 9, will have a "very difficult time" returning this season," Tortorella said. The former Wild enforcer, who was signed to a four-year, $6.4-million free-agent contract last summer, is not symptom-free after his fight with Ottawa's Matt Carkner. "We're trying to stimulate him, get him moving around, but he still doesn't feel well,'' Tortorella said. "He's not close.''

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There are 13 forwards on the roster, and injured Ryan Callahan, Erik Christensen and Vinny Prospal are expected back. Complicating matters is that the 6-7 Boogaard has not skated and will need conditioning.

Boogaard, who was 1-1-2 in 22 games, was playing less than five minutes a game, and although he had dropped 20 pounds, the coaching staff was trying to get him in better shape.