The mood inside the Rangers’ dressing room after the 1-0 loss to the Devils was one of quiet resentment.
The objects of their anger were referees Dan O’Rourke and Dean Morton for disallowing what would have been a game-tying goal from Artem Anisimov and assessing a two minute minor to Marian Gaborik for goaltender interference after the Rangers’ sniper was shoved into Martin Brodeur by Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov with 3.5 seconds remaining.
John Tortorella twice declined comment in his post-game press conference, but the rage was etched on his face as he yelled at O’Rourke and Morton as he left the ice after the loss.
One person who did speak was Gaborik.
“I tried to put my stick on the ice and then just tried to stop. He pushed me into him. If I had run him, I wouldn’t say a word, but I just tried to stop and he pushed me into Brodeur. We could be in overtime right now,” Gaborik said. “I don’t know what kind of explanation he gave to Torts and Cally but obviously I was pushed into him. I don’t know what he said.”
The time of year where executives earn praise or scorn is nigh. The NHL trade deadline is Feb. 27, and scouts are populating press boxes to evaluate players.
The Garden was not immune, as six scouts were in attendance for last night’s match against the Devils. The most interesting team listed was the Columbus Blue Jackets. Speculation persists that the Blue Jackets will trade center Jeff Carter and that left wing Rick Nash will ask to be traded.
Both are high-end offensive players that would benefit the Rangers’ power play, but both would come at a high cost. Nash is signed to a deal through the 2017-18 season, while Carter is in the first year of an 11-year, $58 million pact. The Rangers can afford to add $6.9 million in salary between now and the deadline.
As the league’s worst team, Columbus would presumably want a package of young players, prospects and draft picks in return for either Carter or Nash.
In for a haul
Throughout the 2011-12 campaign, the Rangers have parroted the one-game-at-a-time philosophy that Tortorella has espoused since he replaced Tom Renney at the end of the 2008-09 season.
That mantra will be tested as the Rangers embark on a five-games-in-eight-days stretch on Thursday. The Rangers host Tampa Bay Thursday night for the first time since Artem Anisimov’s sniper goal celebration. Saturday, they will be in Philadelphia for a matinee against the Flyers. They host Washington Sunday, a match that will be carried by NBC. The stint concludes with a game in Boston on Tuesday and a home match against Chicago next Thursday.
The record of the Rangers’ next five opponents is a collective 142-93-24.
Another of Tortorella’s long-held beliefs is that the Rangers must generate offense from their defense.
In their 5-2 win over Philadelphia on Sunday, Anisimov and Brandon Prust forced third-period turnovers from Flyers defensemen Marc-Andre Bourdon and Matt Carle that directly led to Michael Del Zotto’s and Brandon Dubinsky’s goals.
“There are all different ways of creating offense from defense — coverage, a stick check at [the opposition’s] blue line,” Tortorella said before the game. “We’re going to defend first and get our offense off of it.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.