Canadiens, Subban bitterness showed in Gallagher comments

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If “living well is the best revenge,” then P.K. Subban is essentially going Charles Bronson on the Montreal Canadiens since the notorious Shea Weber trade.

Last season, the Habs watched Subban make the 2017 Stanley Cup Final during his first season with the Nashville Predators. Barring some absolutely staggering changes of fortune, it looks like Nashville will make another playoff run while the Canadiens will watch the NHL playoffs on TV with the rest of us.

Heck, the Predators couldn’t even throw the Canadiens a bone on Saturday, as a rowdy Montreal crowd saw Nashville win 3-2 in a shootout.

After the game, Brendan Gallagher clearly wasn’t happy about all the attention Subban was drawing … which essentially generated more attention for Subban.

You can see Gallagher’s full comments in the video above this post; he said “I don’t know why you’re asking about him” and mentioned Nashville’s other “elite” players, getting a jab in on Subban being a -1 in the game. He went further and said the sort of things that probably explain why the Canadiens (foolishly) traded the star defenseman.

This is the sort of feud that makes hockey more fun, but it feels like Subban almost has the Patrick Roy-ish fuel of team success to throw in Gallagher’s face, even if P.K.’s ears can’t be plugged by two championship rings.

When discussing the chatter between the two sides, Subban said “I’m sure it’s pretty quiet over there now” with the Predators getting the two points.

The Athletic’s Arpon Basu reports (sub required) that Gallagher’s beefing comments rank as some of the most frank statements Canadiens have made about Subban, at least in public.

No one from the Canadiens has ever come out and put that notion in such plain terms as Gallagher did Saturday, and that’s largely because the Canadiens have avoided talking about Subban at all costs ever since the June 29, 2016, trade. That silence, that unwillingness to discuss it, spoke volumes. But words are always more impactful.

You didn’t need to witness the post-game comments to see things heat up at times. You could see it when Gallagher was mouthing off after opening the scoring, and collecting his 20th goal of the season:

The hit Subban was speaking of happened here:

It’s worth noting that it’s clear that Subban had plenty of pals in the Montreal locker room, too, as you can see from him visiting with the likes of Carey Price and Alex Galchenyuk. (Aside: it’s still sort of funny that Galchenyuk is called “Chucky.”)

Here’s the thing about all of this: while it’s spicy fun for onlookers – this feels a lot like a high school squabble where the true winners are the audience members – it sure feels like sour grapes from Gallagher, who deserves credit for generating a strong season during a generally miserable one for Montreal.

While Subban is distinguishing himself on the ice (his team looks promising and he’s generating Norris buzz) and off of it (Subban’s sparkling personality made him an All-Star delight, not to mention his fantastic work for charities), the Canadiens are languishing with serious questions about their future direction. Maybe Subban’s personality rubbed some players the wrong way, yet can you really float superior chemistry when your team is plummeting down to mediocrity?

It seems like a feud Gallagher (and maybe the Canadiens as a whole) are bound to lose, but hey, we’ll take a little drama in a sport that often removes the sizzle from the steak.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.