Michel Therrien didn’t exactly answer today’s question about whether his Canadiens were the underdog heading into their series with Boston, but he did offer this:
Statistically speaking, Therrien’s right. Boston captured the Presidents’ Trophy on the strength of a 54-win, 117-point regular season and easily dispatched of Detroit in five games in the opening playoff round, winning four straight after dropping Game 1.
What Therrien didn’t mention, though, is that his team gave the NHL’s top club fits this season. Montreal went 3-1-0 against the Bruins this year — winning twice at TD Garden — and did it largely with Peter Budaj in net, as the Slovak netminder played in three of four head-to-head contests (Carey Price only faced the Bruins once and won, 2-1, back on Dec. 5.)
It’s easy to understand why Therrien has chosen the above narrative, though. He’s always been adept at positioning his club in whatever light he feels will be advantageous — in the 2008 Stanley Cup Final with Pittsburgh, he spent a good chunk of time telling anybody that would listen about how Detroit was obstructing his players, and accused Chris Osgood of embellishing to draw goalie interference calls (see more here).
That said, he’s not going too far with the “Boston’s better” message.
“We’re confident,” he said, prior to tonight’s game. “Come gameday, we’ve talked enough. It’s time for action.”
Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.
The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.
According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”
Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:
The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.
Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.
In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:
Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?
While lineups are obviously subject to change, CSNPhilly.com notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.
Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.
That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”
The CSNPhilly.com quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.
Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.
It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.