This has certainly been an exciting, yet heated past couple of days. There has been plenty of bulletin board material for both teams and fans, leading into game four of the Eastern Conference Finals. Here are some highlights to get you going:
Canadiens forward Daniel Briere has taken a couple of shots across the bow of the New York Rangers ship. Yesterday in a column for Yahoo sports by Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski, he commented on Derek Stepan‘s surgery for an injured jaw suffered in game three:
“I think it seems a little fishy to me,” Briere said after the team’s practice Saturday afternoon. “It seems like a little bit of a game.”
Further, teammate Brendan Gallagher did not think much of the injury, since Stepan was able to complain to the officials after his hit from Prust in game three. Gallagher said that Stepan’s “…jaw isn’t hurting too much.”
Briere also commented on Ryan McDonagh. Again, in the same column by Puck Daddy, Briere is quoted as saying, “Ryan McDonagh‘s a great defenseman, but I haven’t seen anyone slash as much as he has since Chris Pronger.”
I’ll just let those sink in for everyone.
Another Montreal Canadiens team member voiced his concern yesterday. Head coach Michel Therrien commented on an incident in his team’s practice yesterday, involving Rangers’ personnel. Assistant coaches Ulf Sammuelson and Dan Lacroix were noticed by the Canadiens team. After being detected, Michel Therrien asked the two to leave the area. In a CBC.com article, some onlookers described the exchange as being ” somewhat prickly.” Further in the article, Therrien told reporters there is a “gentleman’s agreement” between coaches not to attend the other’s team practices on non-game days.
I understand Therrien’s argument. You’d like the respect of privacy, regarding your team and game planning. However, there is no need to comment to the media about this incident. Whether he was asked by a reporter or volunteered, complaining about it openly is bad judgement, in my opinion. Therrien handled the situation, properly. He confronted the Rangers’ coaches and asked them to leave. It should have ended there. But, he had to be a tattle tail and state it was a “faux pas” of the unwritten law of coaching. It is important to note there is no official National Hockey League rule prohibiting the observation of another’s team practices.
For the Rangers, a bit of good news on the injury front. After taking a tough check from Canadiens’ defenseman Mike Weaver in game one of the series, Derick Brassard looks to be ready to return to action. In a video posted on www.blueshirtsunited.com via MSG networks, he had this to say:
With Brassard’s return, the team is afforded some normalcy. Most likely, Derick Brassard will return to his normal third line center position, between Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot.
Derek Stepan‘s status is questionable. On USAToday.com, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault that that his availability for game four is “unlikely.” However, I would not be surprised if Derek Stepan was on the ice for the Rangers. Hockey players are warriors. They will play through pain for one another. Ask Ryan Getzlaf or Hockey Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman about playing with injuries during the playoffs.
As game time approaches, the anticipation of going back to war is escalated with each passing minute. Once the puck drops, all the media talk ceases and it’s game on. So grab your drinks, nachos, plant yourself down in your favorite chair, and get immersed for two and half hours of non stop action that is the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens hockey.