Montreal Canadiens

Desharnais (illness) likely back for Habs in Game 3

Looking to avoid going 0-3 down in their second-round series against Tampa Bay, the Canadiens will likely have David Desharnais back in the lineup when they face the Bolts tomorrow.

Desharnais, who sat out Sunday’s loss with the flu, traveled to Tampa Bay one day after the rest of his teammates did. Per TVA, the diminutive forward was admitted to hospital over the weekend to get re-hydrated.

Desharnais will be a nice boost for the Habs, should he draw in. He finished third on the team in assists this year (with 34) and has averaged 16:40 TOI through his first seven postseason appearances.

Prust apologizes for all the stuff he said about referee Watson

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Brandon Prust is sorry for what he said about referee Brad Watson.

The Montreal Canadiens forward offered his apology today, telling reporters he wished he could take back what he said, and that what he said was due to emotion. 

What he said, in case you somehow missed it, followed Sunday’s 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay, during which Prust was given two minutes for roughing, then, after arguing with Watson, an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“I thought the original call was kind of soft and I let [Watson] know on the way to the penalty box,” Prust said. “He kept provoking me. He came to the box and called me every name in the book. He called me a piece of you know what, a (expletive), coward, said he’d drive me right out of this building. I kept going, ‘Yeah, OK, yeah OK, yeah OK.’ He kept on me, he kept on me. I kept saying, ‘Yeah, OK.’ I wasn’t looking at him. He teed me up.

“That’s the ref he is. He tries to play God. He tries to control the game and he did that tonight.”

Prust expects to get a call from the NHL about his remarks. He will likely be fined.

Prust’s mea culpa may also have been spurred by his coach, Michel Therrien.

“I’m old school with those things,” Therrien said yesterday, per the Canadian Press. “I’m a true believer that what’s in the dressing room should stay in the dressing room, what’s on the ice and comments should stay on the ice. And we’ll take care of that internally.”

Red Wings’ Devellano calls Mantha ‘very, very, very disappointing’

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Perhaps it was a wake-up call. Perhaps it was just plain, old honesty.

Either way, it’s hard to ignore what longtime Red Wings executive Jim Devellano had to say about winger Anthony Mantha, Detroit’s first-round draft pick from 2013.

“Very, very, very disappointing,” said Devellano, per FOX Sports Detroit. “And I say that with a lot of sadness. Coming out of junior, we had such high hopes for him.”

Mantha, 20, had 15 goals in 62 games for AHL Grand Rapids during the regular season. He has just one assist in five playoff games.

On the bright side, Devellano did have some good things to say about the Wings’ young defensive prospects. Though even saying that, he was forced to lament that “none of them are the answer to Nicklas Lidstrom,” i.e. a future elite defenseman.

“That’s our problem,” he added. “The only place you get those guys is (high) in the draft. And simply because of where we draft we don’t get those guys.”

Granted, that’s not actually true, that top d-men are only available high in the draft. Shea Weber, P.K. Subban and Duncan Keith are all second-rounders. Lidstrom himself was a third-rounder. The Red Wings just haven’t drafted many defensemen with their highest picks in recent years. Xavier Ouellet was taken 48th overall in 2011. Before him, you have to go back to Brendan Smith, 27th overall in 2007.

But it’s true that the Wings don’t appear to have a future elite d-man in the system, and you have to wonder how that will affect 1) their ability to compete for a Stanley Cup in the near future and 2) Mike Babcock’s willingness to remain with the club.

Related: On the difference between ‘good’ and ‘big-time’ players

Five team stats you may find interesting

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5 — The number of power-play goals for the Anaheim Ducks in these playoffs. That’s been huge for them, especially after they struggled with the man advantage during the regular season (28th, 15.7%). On paper, the Ducks’ power play should be deadly. Corey Perry is one of the top snipers in hockey, Ryan Getzlaf is one of the top play-making forwards, and Sami Vatanen is the kind of creative blue-liner that can open lanes from up top. Those three have combined for 11 PP points in six games.

45.6% — Minnesota’s Corsi close, the lowest percentage of all 16 playoff teams. The Wild were one of the top possession teams during the regular season, but facing the Blues and Blackhawks in the postseason has been a challenge. The Wild, like the Ducks, have taken advantage of their power-play opportunities, scoring six times on just 17 opportunities. But they’ll likely need to control a bit more of the five-on-five play if they hope to get back in the series.

.922 — Montreal’s team save percentage, No. 8 out of 16. The Habs had the highest team save percentage (.926) out of 30 during the regular season. And while you can’t say Carey Price has been bad in the playoffs, because he definitely hasn’t been, the Canadiens simply don’t score enough for him to be anything but great.

6 — Times out of nine that the Washington Capitals have surrendered the first goal. They’re 2-4 in that situation and 3-0 when they score first. As a whole, the team that’s scored first in these playoffs has gone 35-20. So yeah, for the most part, it’s been pretty important to get that 1-0 lead.

6.3% — Five-on-five shooting percentage for the New York Rangers, 12th out of 16. The Blueshirts finished the regular season at 8.8 percent, fourth out of 30, with some arguing there was bound to be a regression. Rick Nash, in a related story, has just one goal on 25 shots.

‘You can’t win,’ ex-NHL ref Fraser says of Prust incident

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Interesting piece here from the National Post, following Brandon Prust’s alleged dressing down from referee Brad Watson during Montreal’s 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday:

“You can’t win,” said Kerry Fraser, who officiated 1,904 regular season games and 261 playoff games, including 13 Stanley Cup finals, during his 37-year career. “What’s the end game to all of this? The end game is he questioned the integrity of an official and there’s not a win in that.

“Brandon Prust has engaged himself in something that’s going to take him into an area where he doesn’t want to be part of, because officials are human and they’re part of a team too. If you look at the team concept from a hockey players’ perspective, they stand up for their teammates. The same goes for officials.”

In the wake of an eventful night — Prust finished with 31 penalty minutes, tossed after a late-game altercation with Bolts goalie Ben Bishop and d-man Braydon Coburn — the Montreal forward made the rare move of calling out an official, claiming Watson launched into a verbal tirade while calling a penalty in the first period.

“He called me a piece of you know what, a [expletive], coward, said he’d drive me right out of this building,” Prust explained. “I kept going, ‘Yeah OK, yeah OK, yeah OK.’ He kept on me, he kept on me. I kept saying ‘Yeah OK.’ I wasn’t looking at him and he [added an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty].

“That’s the ref he is. He tried to play God. He tries to control the game and he did that tonight.”

Many have suggested Prust will now face the same fate as Vancouver forward Alex Burrows, who infamously called out former referee Stephane Auger in 2010. Burrows was fined by the league for his comments but many suggested it was his reputation, not wallet, that took the biggest hit; there were whispers (loud, loud whispers) Burrows was — and still is — a marked man among NHL officials.