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NHL Notebook: Rangers, Devils have line brawl off opening faceoff and John Tortorella speaks out about criticism of Flyers

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Photo credit:Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
The score has been settled.
And all it took was three weeks for it to happen.
New York Rangers enforcer Matt Rempe has made him a villain of sorts in the eyes of the New Jersey Devils. When the rookie first played against them on February 22nd, he was ejected just 2:25 into the game after laying a vicious hit to the head of Devils winger Nathan Bastian.
Then, weeks later when the two clubs met again on March 11th, he laid a dangerous elbow on Devils defenceman Jonas Siegenthaler. Feverishly, the Devils’ Kurtis MacDermid tried to get to Rempe, but the latter egged on the fans at Madison Square Garden.
Fast forward to Wednesday night when these two teams met once again.
With both teams knowing the score needed to be settled, Rempe and MacDermid took the opening faceoff, dropping the gloves as the title fight of the night — but suddenly, a full-on undercard took place, too.
In the eyes of the referees, the first two to drop the gloves were the Devils’ Curtis Lazar and the Rangers’ Jimmy Vesey, while the aforementioned pair squared off and three other pairs did, too: the Devils’ Kevin Bahl and the Rangers’ Barclay Goodrow, the Devils’ Chris Tierney and the Rangers’ Jacob Trouba, as well as the Devils’ John Marino and the Rangers’ K’Andre Miller. As the dust settled Devils interim head coach Travis Green and Rangers bench boss Peter Laviolette screamed at each other from between the benches.

WATCH: NEW YORK RANGERS AND NEW JERSEY DEVILS BRAWL

From the fracas, all but Lazar and Vesey were ejected from the game, as referees Jean Hebert and Gord Dwyer hoped to cool things off. That, however, didn’t last long as four and a half minutes into the first period the Devils’ Dawson Mercer and the Rangers’ Will Cuylie would scrap.
By the end of the first period, the time of writing, there were no other firey moments, but the Rangers were able to jump out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere.

Firey Flyers Torotorella fires back

Sticking with news out of the Metro Divison, Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella didn’t shy away from throwing punches of his own on Wednesday.
These, however, weren’t with his fists, but rather his voice in a passionate press conference.
With his club sputtering to a 2-5-3 record in their last 10 as they try to eek into the playoffs, he wasn’t shy about talking about his team, his coaching style, and the way it’s often perceived.
“It comes down to – oh, they’re going to quit on him. It follows me around. And so be it,” said Tortorella, as transcribed by The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz. “If a player is going to quit on me, or players are going to quit on me because I’m trying to make them better people or better athletes, you’ve got the wrong damn coach here, and you’re got the wrong damn people here.”
“My job is, I’m going to push athletes. I try to stay away from… I have other things on my mind that I don’t give you. I was in control the other night. What I said, I meant. And quite honestly when I watch the tape now I’m more concerned than just the second period. Because of, I’m so proud of the team getting here. I guess now the narrative out there is I’ve heard from other people (is): they’re young. They’re not supposed to be here.
“Bullshit. We’re here. We’re here. Face it. And let’s be better. And I don’t think we’re ready to be better, and that’s my problem with us right now. And it is my job – I have not done a good enough job to get them over the hump.. I haven’t done a good enough job to make them understand we have to be different now. We have to be at a different level. that’s my frustration with me, and that’s my frustration with the team. And if people can’t handle it, so be it.”

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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