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Any changes, Torts? 'Watch the game'

Friday, 04.24.2009 / 1:41 PM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"I'm not trying to disrespect anybody here," he continued. "I know what you guys want to do. You want it to be a Sean Avery story and I'm not getting into a conversation about a Sean Avery story. I'll get into a conversation about what the New York Rangers have to do to win. So I'll leave it at that."
-- John Tortorella

Give John Tortorella credit for trying to beef up the ratings for Friday night's Game 5 at Verizon Center (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS) because he wasn't dishing on what the New York Rangers' lineup would look like after the team conducted an optional morning skate.

"As far as the lineup, when we play tonight at 7 p.m. you'll see our lineup," Tortorella said. "And, we'll go from there."

Will Sean Avery play or will Tortorella bench him after he put the Rangers in a bind Wednesday night by taking a pair of minor penalties in the final 9:39 of the game?

Watch the game.

Will captain Chris Drury, who scored the game-winning goal in Game 4, be in the lineup again despite an obvious hand or wrist injury that has limited him throughout this entire series?

Watch the game.

"We have some nicks along the way here," Tortorella said. "It'll be a game-time decision for some guys."

Tortorella handled persistent questions about Avery, which was to be expected.

But he didn't want to talk specifically about Avery, "because of what Sean did the other night you (the media) want to make it a Sean Avery thing. I coach the New York Rangers. I think team concept is the most important thing."

Still, Tortorella respects the fact that people want to know what he's thinking in regards to Avery, who has clearly been one of the most talked about players in this series despite having zero points, a minus-1 rating and 24 penalty minutes through four games.

"I understand that and I respect you asking the question, but I also … a couple of things came up with a couple of players earlier this year during the regular season and I told you that it belongs in the locker room," Tortorella said. "This belongs in the locker room, too.

"I'm not trying to disrespect anybody here," he continued. "I know what you guys want to do. You want it to be a Sean Avery story and I'm not getting into a conversation about a Sean Avery story. I'll get into a conversation about what the New York Rangers have to do to win. So I'll leave it at that."

So, what do the Rangers have to do in Game 5 to close out this series?

Fewer turnovers and more puck possession time was Tortorella's answer because like anyone else in the NHL, he knows how powerful the Capitals' offense can be. It hasn't taken flight just yet, but there's always that scary you-never-know factor.

"Against this team and the way they transition, you turn over pucks at the top of the circle, it's dangerous," Tortorella said. "And, I think we're still doing that. We're not playing underneath the hash marks enough. That's a concern."

So is the amount of time the Rangers are spending in the penalty box. Washington has had 22 power plays in this series, more than five per game. That, of course, has something to do with Avery, but Markus Naslund also has five minor penalties.

"To me, the heading of discipline falls under being sharp through the neutral zone as far as getting it in and also staying out of the penalty box," Tortorella said. "We've been there too long and it's going to kick us in the teeth here eventually."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com



Quote of the Day

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals