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Tortorella rips Pens for Orpik hit on Stepan

Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 11:41 PM / NHL Insider

By Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Rangers coach John Tortorella became visibly upset when Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik dropped New York center Derek Stepan with a knee-to-knee hit on Thursday night, and he turned his anger on the Penguins franchise.

Orpik drew a five-minute major penalty for kneeing and a game misconduct for upending Stepan with less than five minutes remaining in the Penguins' 5-2 victory at Consol Energy Center – a hit that Tortorella called "cheap, dirty."

Stepan was carrying the puck in the neutral zone and, just as he released a pass at the blue line, he tried to cut the other way to avoid colliding with Orpik, only to be rammed knee to knee. Stepan remained on the ice for several minutes.

"I wonder what would happen if we did it to their two whining stars? Wonder what would happen?" Tortorella said, referring to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. "So I'm anxious to see what happens with the League. There's no respect amongst players. None."

Tortorella included several expletives into brief comments made following what essentially was a meaningless game for the Rangers, who have already clinched first place in the Eastern Conference.

All coaches worry about losing a key player to an injury with the Stanley Cup Playoffs about to begin, another reason for Tortorella's tirade. The Rangers did not provide a medical update on Stepan.

"That's one of the most arrogant organizations in the League," Tortorella said of the Penguins. "They whine about this stuff all the time. It's ridiculous. But they'll whine about something else over there, won't they? Starting with their two (bleeping) stars."

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma compared it to a hit by Eric Nystrom on Penguins defenseman Kris Letang on Feb. 29. Nystrom was not suspended, but Letang missed the next five games.

"Kris tried to get out of the way and the hit was made, and it was somewhat of a problem for the guy giving the hit," Bylsma said. "Brooks is on his (Stepan's) path and is looking to hit the guy at an angle and he (Stepan) is definitely looking to get out of the way, and it creates that scenario."

It was the second time in less than a week that an Atlantic Division coach assailed the Penguins for a hard hit. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette became irate when Penguins forward Joe Vitale leveled forward Danny Briere with a clean, but hard hit Sunday.

Laviolette was fined $10,000 for breaking a stick, then jumping up and confronting Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato as the two stood at the end of their respective benches yelling at each other.

I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the series-winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round