Montreal Canadiens v New York Rangers - Game Three

PHT Morning Skate: Put up or shut up for Rangers-Habs


It’s been said that “talk is cheap” but the one thing it does do is help make things a bit more interesting.

The Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers haven’t been able to help but speak their minds about each other following the Habs’ 3-2 overtime win in Game 3. From the Rangers seeking to make sure more calls aren’t missed, like Brandon Prust’s late hit on Derek Stepan, to the Canadiens taking umbrage with said gamesmanship the two days off between Games 3 and 4 have served to amp things up.

All the talk ends tonight and the Canadiens have the chance to even-up the series before heading home. The Rangers would like nothing more than to put them on the brink of elimination.

Game 4: New York Rangers vs. Montreal Canadiens [New York leads series 2-1] (8:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

With all the talk aside, losing Game 3 had to be frustrating for the Rangers. They controlled the better part of the game and peppered the Montreal net with shots. The key for the Canadiens will be whether or not Dustin Tokarski can rise to the occasion again. His 35 saves in Game 3 helped buoy the Habs and gave them a bit more resolve to push back.

Derick Brassard’s return to the lineup should give the Rangers a lift. He’s been out since early in Game 1 against Montreal after taking a big hit from Mike Weaver. Brassard will return to his usual spot on a line with Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello and even though Michel Therrien said they know what exactly his injury is, that weird statement of fact shouldn’t slow him down.

Brassard’s return and Stepan likely being out isn’t a great trade-off, but one the Rangers will gladly take at this point in the playoffs.

One thing to watch for Montreal: P.K. Subban. He hasn’t had a great series so far but that doesn’t mean an eruption won’t happen. He’s too good of a player to keep down for long and after being such a big factor against the Boston Bruins, you get the feeling there’s a big game from him coming.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?