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John Tortorella Keeps Tempting Fate

Benching Marian Gaborik was a curious move by the Rangers coach

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    Did Tortorella put making a point ahead of winning?

    The biggest story to come out of the Devils' 3-2 win in Game Two had nothing to do with Martin Brodeur's goaltending, New Jersey's forechecking or anything else on the ice.

    It had to do with John Tortorella's post-game press conference when the truculent Rangers coach used a series of one-word answers to reveal nothing about his thoughts and leave reporters covering the team to whine about how little help they get from Tortorella. Their displeasure is why this became a story, because there isn't a soul alive who actually thinks there's any correlation between the play of the team and the coach's demeanor in a press conference.

    Chris Carlin of SNY suggested that Tortorella just answer questions with silly cliches, which gets to the heart of why this whole thing is so ridiculous. Who wants to hear another coach or player spout stupidity just so a columnist can spin it into some empty parable about the game? 

    Tortorella's pressers are amusing and they don't make anybody's job any harder because you can simply comment on what happened in the game. Had the media worried less about getting someone to say that the Rangers will keep on grinding because the Devils are a great opponent, they might have even noticed that Tortorella made a far more questionable decision on Wednesday night.

    When Marian Gaborik's poor attempt to clear the puck and ineffectual attempt to block a shot combined to become the Devils' game-tying goal late in the second period, Tortorella wasn't a happy man. You didn't need him to tell you that because he showed you how he felt by leaving Gaborik on the bench for most of the third period.

    This has happened before this season and it has happened before with Gaborik, but there's a pretty big difference between a midseason game with the Sharks and the Eastern Conference Finals. Keeping Gaborik on the bench took away one of the few scoring threats that the Rangers have at their disposal and it left the Rangers trying to win a gunfight with a knife.

    The Rangers had a chance to go up 2-0 in the series and they made less of it because Tortorella chose to deal with Gaborik in that manner. We won't argue too much with the style of a guy with a Cup who took these Rangers great places this year, but that wasn't a point that could have been made in the locker room in between periods?

    Tortorella tempted fate (and lost) to make a point to Gaborik about his play, and you can be sure the message was received. A betting man shouldn't think twice about putting his money on a stronger performance from Gaborik Saturday afternoon in Game Three.

    But we're less sure about the Rangers because we're less sure that a team that has missed as many chances to make life easier for themselves is capable of ultimately beating the fates they keep tempting. Tortorella made his point, but at what price to the Rangers' chances of moving forward this season?

    It's a more interesting question to ponder than Tortorella's press conference, but apparently less satisfying because it winds up somewhere other than just calling the Rangers coach a jerk. 

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.