Two days after the New York Rangers won Game 7 to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Coach John Tortorella took aim at the Washington Capitals’ focus in the series and criticized them for complaining about the officiating.
“We’ve got everybody and their brother whining out there in Washington about what happened in that series,” Tortorella told reporters in New York on Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News. “And I think that’s a big reason they lose that series.”
Several Capitals players voiced their displeasure about the officiating following their loss in Game 6 at Madison Square Garden, when they failed to receive a power play while the Rangers had five.
But the irritation at the calls or lack thereof began even earlier, in Game 3, when Washington was whistled for six minors in the first 28 minutes 32 seconds.
On Wednesday, as players packed up their sticks and equipment bags, General Manager George McPhee expressed his own concerns about the officiating.
“I don’t know why there were six penalties in the first 30 minutes of that game,” McPhee said. “I don’t know why. What did we do to deserve that?”
The Capitals finished the series with 16 power plays while the Rangers, the least-penalized team in the regular season, received 28. The Capitals-Rangers series didn’t even feature the largest discrepancy in the first round — that was San Jose-Vancouver. The Sharks had 24 power-play opportunities to 10 for the Canucks.
Following the Capitals’ 5-0 loss in Game 7, Alex Ovechkin sounded off about the possibility of a league conspiracy to force the series to a seventh game.
“Not saying there was a phone call, but they wanted Game 7,” Ovechkin said in a Russian interview with Slava Malamud of Sport-Express. “For ratings. You know, lockout, escrow, league must make profit.”
Asked about Ovechkin’s comments, McPhee supported the concerns of his star player.
“I don’t think there’s a league conspiracy, but it sure didn’t feel right. Alex wasn’t wrong,” McPhee said. “I talked to them during the series, but at some point you stop. They’ll referee the way they want to referee.”