Habs-Rangers verbal battle grows louder

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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.