It’s taken just three games for it to happen, but the full-scale war of words between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens is in full swing.
Following injuries to both Carey Price and Derek Stepan under different hotly debated circumstances have brought out staunch defenses of Chris Kreider and Brandon Prust alike. With Stepan’s broken jaw occurring after Prust’s big (and suspendable late) hit, Habs players like David Desharnais are calling the hit a good one.
As Sean Gordon of The Globe And Mail says, the talking between both sides is adding fuel to the fire of what’s become a nasty series and Rangers coach Alain Vigneault thinks he knew what Prust was hoping to do.
“He’s the one who openly mentioned what [Chris] Kreider did, and other than a few over-zealous fans, 95 percent of the people in hockey knew Kreider didn’t want to hurt [Montreal goalie Carey] Price [in Game 1],” Vigneault said. “But what Prust did, by being late with the check, up toward the head, we’re going to leave it at that.”
The Habs say it’s a good hit, the Rangers disagree. Reverse the roles and you could be talking about what happened with Price.
Whether the verbal slings and arrows are just an airing of grievances or a way to campaign for more calls to be made, that’s up for debate, but the one thing it won’t do is cool tempers for either team. Either way, a series that started with talk of mutual respect has devolved into the kind of heated battle you hope for in the postseason.
The Chicago Blackhawks, defending Stanley Cup champions, have found themselves in a series with the Minnesota Wild. It didn’t look like that would be the case a few days ago.
The Wild, down 2-0 early on in this series, have won the last two games. That includes a 4-2 victory over the Blackhawks in Game 4 on Friday. The series now shifts back to Chicago, all tied.
“This series is long from over, so that’s the good news. We’ve got a chance to redeem ourselves and be better than we have been,” said Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews afterward, as per Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Toews added: “It’s playoff hockey. It’s not supposed to be easy. There’s going to be some moments where your stomach drops.”
The Blackhawks were shut out in the third game, and kept to just two goals – Ilya Bryzgalov was sensational for Minnesota after allowing a weak goal to Patrick Sharp – in the fourth game. (Just check out this save late in the third period.)
Chicago might have the advantage in this series on paper when it comes to talent. But the Wild have been able to keep the Blackhawks’ skilled players in check, for the most part, in the past two games.
On Friday, Chicago had just 20 shots on Bryzgalov in the entire game.
“We can look in the mirror and know we can do a better job of getting to their net and creating scoring chances,” said Sharp, as per Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune.
The Blackhawks are set to meet President Obama for the second time in three years.
The ‘Hawks will visit with the president in honor of their 2013 Stanley Cup championship on Monday, the White House announced. The team will meet Obama at 2 p.m. ET and also visit the Walter Reed national Military Medical Center to “thank our veterans, wounded warriors, and their families for their courage and service to our country.”
Chicago last visited the White House in 2010, celebrating its first Stanley Cup championship in 49 years.
“I have to say, even by Chicago standards, 49 years, that’s a pretty long time,” Obama said in his ’10 speech. “To put that in perspective, the last time the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, a movie cost 69 cents. JFK had just moved into the White House. I was still in diapers.”
Following the address, the ‘Hawks presented Obama with a No. 44 jersey in honor of the 44th president of the United States.
“I thought he had a great speech,” Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said of the ’10 visit. “A lot of good flashback memories about the route that we traveled.
“There are some highlights along the way. … He was a part of it as well and it was great.”
The Chicago Blackhawks finished off their 2013 Stanley Cup victory lap on Tuesday, raising another championship banner to the rafters before their season-opener against the Washington Capitals.
Check out video of that glitzy ceremony in the video below:
The way they’ve played so far, it’s not crazy to imagine Chicago hosting a similar party in October 2014.
The 2013-14 season is already off to an exciting start with the Toronto Maple Leafs visiting the Montreal Canadiens, and just moments from now, the Chicago Blackhawks will hoist their 2013 Stanley Cup banner and then host the Washington Capitals.
If that doesn’t get you to tune in to NBC SN, what will? Maybe this video?
Looks like it’s going to be a busy year, huh?