New York Rangers Coach John Tortorella began his news conference Thursday with some ground rules. Known for his bristly encounters with reporters, particularly during last season’s Stanley Cup playoff run, Tortorella insisted he “wanted to get along” with the press this year.
“But I’m not gonna talk about injuries and I’m certainly not gonna talk about the lineup each and every day,” Tortorella said, “And I’m not gonna answer questions …that begin with, ‘Can you talk about?’ Ask me a question and I’ll do the best I can to answer that.”
Moments later, as he actually responded to a question, a cell phone began ringing in the middle of his answer.
“That’s another thing … I am going to walk if a cell phone goes off,” Tortorella said, cutting himself off.
Tortorella, notorious around Washington for throwing a water bottle at Capitals fans back in 2009, was in playoff form after Thursday’s morning skate at Verizon Center, tight lipped as ever now that faceoff is hours away. Tortorella insisted every player on the roster is a game-time decision.
But two who likely won’t be in New York’s lineup for Game 1 of its Eastern Conference quarterfinals series against the Capitals Thursday night are forward Brian Boyle and defenseman Marc Staal, even though both skated with the team in the morning.
Boyle was on the ice for the first time since suffering a right leg injury back on April 16 that forced him to miss the final six games of the regular season. The 6-7, 244-pound center didn’t have much to say about any progress he’s making, but did not rule out a return in this series.
“It’s the playoffs. I want to get out there as quick as I can,” said Boyle, who has just two goals and three assists this season. “It felt good, so that’s all I really know. I don’t have any idea how it’s supposed to work. I’m trying to feel as good as I can as fast as I can.”
Staal has been skating with the Rangers for the better part of a month now as he recovers from an eye injury suffered when a puck struck him in the face on March 5. But he admitted Thursday his vision has not returned completely and that doctors have indicated it will be a gradual process that could take three to four months.
Staal added that “the stakes are too high right now” for him to re-enter the lineup without feeling like himself again, even though he hopes to be back “sooner rather than later.”
“I think it’s gonna be an adjustment once I get on the ice anyways,” Staal said. “As soon as I’m not second guessing myself or hesitating or doing things that I normally do become automatic again is when I can jump into a playoff game.”