The New York Rangers trailed their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Boston Bruins by a game after dropping the opener, 3-2, in overtime on Thursday, and had gone just 2-for-31 on the power play to that point.
Asked why he didn't use second-year speedster Carl Hagelin on the man-advantage unit, Rangers head coach John Tortorella gave a pretty pointed answer to the New York Times and other outlets.
“Because he stinks on the power play,” Tortorella said on Saturday. “I don’t know why. I wish I could play him on the power play. Every time I put him on, he stinks.”
To be fair, Tortorella suggested that Hagelin was sort of a "jitterbug" on the ice, one who perhaps moved too fast for purposes of the power play, which is more of a stationary situation. Kind of understandable when you have speed like Hagelin, who won the Fastest Skater competition at the 2012 All-Star Game festivities in Ottawa, does.
Still, even if it was tongue-in-cheek, Tortorella used the word "stinks" at least a half-dozen times when he referred to Hagelin and his power-play efforts.
Picking out a second-year player who's just 24 years old, when established millionaires like Rick Nash and Brad Richards have done nothing on the power play (or much elsewhere) throughout the playoffs this year, is surprising.
Hagelin, who played at Michigan from 2007 to 2011, recorded 152 points in that span while leading the Wolverines to four NCAA tournament appearances, including a national runner-up finish his senior season. At Michigan he scored 14 power-play goals in four years, including a career-high seven as a senior.
The Swedish speedster had 38 points in 64 NHL games as a rookie in 2011-12, and added 24 points in 48 games in the lockout-shortened 2013 regular season. To date he has two goals and five points in eight Stanley Cup playoff outings so far this spring.
Make you wonder what Hagelin's college coach, retired NHL player Red Berenson, would think about Totorella's words (not that the oft-brusque Tortorella would really care).
Hagelin played 17:02 in all and had four shots in Sunday's 5-2 loss in Game 2 at Boston on Sunday, which put the Rangers in an 0-2 hole for the second straight series. New York also went 0-for-5 on the power play. Game 3 at Madison Square Garden is slated for Tuesday night in Manhattan.