We’re not sure if you knew this, but a lot of folks in Montreal were clamoring for defenseman Ryan O’Byrne to get the call in the Eastern Conference finals against Philadelphia. O’Byrne is a big, bruising defender and more than capable of laying a hit or five. Going against an overly physical team like Philadelphia it would seem like having a physical presence of your own would make sense.
While there’s always a method to a coach’s madness, fans in Montreal have struggled with some of Jacques Martin’s choices and his decision to bench Ryan O’Byrne after playing just 1:34 of the first period is high on that list for the folks at All Habs.
Jacques Martin’s handling of Ryan O’Byrne only supports his reputation as a coach who picks favorites and destroys the confidence of younger players. With O’Byrne having been held out of the past three games, adrenaline got the better of him early in the game.
O’Byrne accidentally cleared the puck into the crowd earning him a penalty for delay of game. He rarely saw the ice after that playing only 1:34. O’Byrne’s mistake was certainly far less egregious than the dozens made by Marc-Andre Bergeron but to no avail.
It appeared to me that Martin nailed O’Byrne to the bench not for fear of another error but in case he did something right. The coach has been second-guessed and peppered with questions about not using O’Byrne in this physical series.
With O’Byrne’s penalty, and no further chance to redeem himself, Martin was able to make himself look like he was right all along. It’s a sad way to manage a team, and partly responsible for the coach’s mediocre career record.
There’s damning criticism and then there’s that scathing rundown. O’Byrne is a tough kid and he’s certainly had his ups and downs with Montreal but you have to wonder if maybe playing O’Byrne a bit more would’ve helped save Roman Hamrlik the ignominy of having to fight Scott Hartnell in a blowout game in the Eastern Conference finals. After all, isn’t that the exact specific sort of role Ryan O’Byrne fits in the first place? I know it’s tough for Habs fans to find something to get worked up about after a 5-1 win for their team, but Martin’s choice to bench O’Byrne is certainly worth questioning.
Keith Urban sang the national anthem for Game 3. Kelly Clarkson did the honors for the Nashville Predators before Game 4. Next up: Trisha Yearwood for Game 6.
The Predators hope to close out the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, and they got off to a nice start with Austin Watson scoring a quick 1-0 goal. Not long after, the Predators added another to build to a 2-0 lead.
Garth Brooks spoiled Yearwood’s appearance a bit before the contest.
Brooks also revealed Yearwood’s early fan creds:
Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie scored a goal in Game 4, but he won’t be able to provide such a scoring boost for his team in Game 6.
That’s because he was ejected during the first period after hitting rising Nashville Predators star Viktor Arvidsson from behind, bloodying the slick Swede.
Ritchie was whistled for a game misconduct and major. Remarkably, the Ducks killed the entire five-minute power-play opportunity, with Ryan Kesler‘s shorthanded chance being one of the better opportunities for either team.
It’s still a big blunder, but if the Ducks can get back in it, remember that big kill.
Video of the hit is coming soon. For now, check out the GIF:
Oddly, Arvidsson left the ice with a wound that more or less spelled out “R,” presumably for Ritchie, maybe celebrating the return of “Twin Peaks.”
(Such an obvious move might not be surreal enough for David Lynch, though. Alex Prewitt’s Zorro reference might be more, um, on the mark.)
It was already loud at Bridgestone Arena, but the Nashville Predators are making it a madhouse with a strong start against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6.
First, it was Austin Watson, who sent a puck off a Ducks skate to score a 1-0 goal on Nashville’s first shot on Jonathan Bernier, who is starting instead of John Gibson. That came about 90 seconds into the game, really revving up the crowd.
Colton Sissons scored his first goal of the Western Conference Final – on his first shot on goal of the series – to make it 2-0. At that point, Bernier had allowed two goals on three shots on goal. Bernier’s made a few stops since then, but it’s a shaky start for a Ducks team facing elimination.
There’s some solace in that Anaheim’s often at its best in dire situations, though you have to wonder how many times they can bounce back from this?
The Anaheim Ducks won’t have John Gibson back, but the Nashville Predators are dealing with some injury-related letdowns, too.
Craig Smith skated before Game 6, but he opted not to play on Monday. Mike Fisher is also unable to go for the Predators as they aim to eliminate Anaheim.
The Ducks also won’t have Rickard Rakell back in the mix, so this physical Western Conference Final continues to feel like a battle of attrition.
Click here for the official roster report.
Game 5 is airing on NBCSN right now. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App.
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