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.

Stars to scratch Nichushkin after rough outing versus Avs?

Craig Anderson
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Looks as though slumping Dallas winger Valeri Nichushkin could be a healthy scratch tonight when the Stars host the Oilers at American Airlines.

Per the Morning-News, Nichushkin — who barely played in the second and third periods of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Colorado — is likely to be replaced by Colton Sceviour in the lineup.

Stars head coach Lindy Ruff was fuming after the Avs defeat, calling it “embarrassing, worse than disappointing.” It didn’t take a genius to realize one of the players in his doghouse was Nichushkin, who had just 2:02 of ice time in the second period and 3:24 in the third.

Yesterday, Ruff dropped Nichushkin to the fourth line in practice.

“I’ve been trying to help him by shifting him around,” the head coach explained. “He had some struggles early in camp on right wing, so I put him on left, and he doesn’t seem real comfortable at left right now.

“His game, everything has got to get a little bit quicker.”

The 10th overall pick in 2013, Nichushkin has struggled to build on the form shown in his rookie campaign, when he scored 14 goals and 34 points in 79 contests.

He missed nearly all of last season with a linger hip ailment and has been a virtual non-factor through the first two games this year.

Report: Teams ‘screaming bloody murder’ about Richards settlement

Mike Richards

When the Los Angeles Kings announced they’d settled with Mike Richards, it didn’t take long for the accusations of salary-cap circumvention to materialize.

And though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was adamant that the settlement was “far from” circumvention, apparently not everyone agrees with the league in that regard.

“Privately, other teams are screaming bloody murder and are threatening to make an issue about it at December’s Board of Governors’ meeting,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports.

Friedman goes into more detail in his story, so click the link to read more.

But remember how we wrote that the issue in this case was precedent, and that the “NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door”?

Well, one agent posed a good question to Friedman: “What’s to stop other teams from trying this?”