trash talk

Marchand ramps up Bruins – Blue Jackets trash talk

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The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs feature a downright dizzying array of upsets, so in this time of uncertainty, it’s comforting to see some constants. And is there really anything more constant than Brad Marchand stirring up some drama?

The superstar-agitator was in playoff (and by no means “rare”) form after the Bruins managed a 3-2 OT win against the Blue Jackets in Game 1, trading barbs with former teammate Riley Nash, and possibly riling up Cam Atkinson.

Hits keep coming

David Krejci is considered day-to-day after being shaken up by a couple of hits, most notably one by former teammate Nash:

Marchand had a fun line regarding Nash, via The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa.

“I don’t think he had a hit in two years with us,” Marchand said.

People seemed to agree with Marchand’s sentiment, but to be fair to Nash, that comment carries some (gasp) hyperbole. Nash averages a bit more than a hit per game during his career, including 86 during 76 games with the Bruins in 2017-18.

Perhaps Marchand should start chirping scorekeepers for counting up Nash’s hits? Marchand averages ever-so-slightly fewer hits per game, although some of his hits have drawn the ire of the Department of Player Safety.

Tip: Marchand might be better off mocking Nash for his lighter scoring, particularly after Marchand wrapped up his first 100-point season. Just saying.

Another tip: Don’t ask Marcus Johansson about Marchand’s hitting abilities.

Shenanigans

In an odd exchange during overtime, Marchand stepped on Atkinson’s stick, or as Marchand explains it …

Atkinson gave Marchand a bump after that moment, and following Game 1, Atkinson said he would “go toe to toe” with Marchand, according to The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline. Given some time to rest on it, Portzline indicates that Atkinson’s tone became more bemused than truly annoyed, but who knows?

This rivalry figures to build as Round 2 goes along, even if it doesn’t devolve into fisticuffs and ill-advised penalties. So far, Atkinson’s most common even-strength forward adversary has been Marchand. While Columbus managed to keep the Bruins’ most potent scorers from producing in Game 1, the possession numbers and eye test both argue that Marchand was getting his chances, and Boston obviously won. It remains to be seen if Atkinson & Co. can improve as the series goes along, or if John Tortorella might want to get away from that matchup when the Blue Jackets get the last change when the series shifts to Columbus.

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It’s tempting to wonder if Atkinson might be able to distract/”get Marchand off his game,” but honestly, it seems like Marchand thrives on this kind of gamesmanship. And hey, trash talk doesn’t exactly make things dull like Marchand’s skate blade, either.

The Bruins hope to build on their 1-0 series lead against the Blue Jackets in Game 2 at TD Garden at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday (NBC; stream here).

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.

Trash talk between Reaves, Kane almost as good as their fight

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Evander Kane was named after Evander Holyfield, but there’s a touch of Muhammad Ali to his trash talk with Ryan Reaves.

The two engaged in a positively terrifying fight during the Golden Knights’ 6-3 win against the Sharks in Game 3, after heated exchanges that Pierre McGuire described as minutes-long bits of almost certainly NSFW banter. While the material there is too “blue” for our innocent eyes and ears, the two weren’t shy about making their disdain public. From the sound of things, Game 3 might not be the last time they drop the gloves during this Round 1 series, whether the next bout happens in Game 4 (Tuesday, 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN; Live stream) or later.

On Monday, Reaves was asked if he gained respect for Evander Kane after that fight, and the answer seemed to be “not a ton.”

“Yeah I guess a little bit but not really a lot to be honest,” Reaves said, via Sin Bin Vegas. “I’m not really ever going to respect that guy.”

[2019 NBC STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS HUB]

Reaves went on to take a shot at Joe Thornton regarding Thornton’s suspension following a hit on Tomas Nosek, referring to Jumbo Joe as “grandpa” and joking that Thornton will have trouble seeing from the press box. Kane apparently heard about those comments, and they became a part of a multi-part takedown of Reaves. Shen Peng of Fear the Fin captured the trash talking glory of it all:

As you can see from that smorgasboard of smack talk, Kane made the following remarks:

  • That Kane was unharmed from the fight, and that he “expected more of a battle,” comparing fighting Reaves to fighting “The Muffin Man.” (Not totally sure what Kane is referencing, so here’s hoping it was this. Either way, that song has traveled back from my childhood and is now firmly planted in my head.)
  • Kane says that Reaves speaks as if he’s in WWE, and uses that as a way to throw a barb at Reaves as a player, wondering if Reaves might become a professional wrestler soon. Request: if Reaves does, can his gimmick be “The Muffin Experience?”
  • Most succinctly, Kane said “Nobody thinks of Ryan Reaves as a hockey player.”

Harsh.

As we saw with the Alex Ovechkin – Andrei Svechnikov fight, it’s easy to forget about what are often scary consequences to these fights. While both Reaves and Kane are more seasoned in that regard, there’s also even greater size and fighting experience involved, only making potential bouts more dangerous.

From the Sharks’ perspective, you also have to wonder if Reaves is accomplishing a lot by getting Kane off of his game. This feud isn’t just a distraction; Kane (and the Sharks) must be aware that any fight would mean taking Kane – who had 30 goals and 56 points during the regular season – off the ice for five minutes or more. Even those who believe that Reaves brings more than fisticuffs to the table would probably agree that such a tradeoff would be a huge win for the Golden Knights. The same could be said if both players were injured in a fight.

For fans of “old time hockey,” this is a rare treat, and there’s no denying the spectacle. The Sharks risk giving the Golden Knights an edge if Kane gets swept up in all of it at the wrong time, though. Kane fighting Reaves in a blowout was one thing, but tensions boiling over at the wrong time could end up hurting San Jose.

Then again, maybe an angry Kane might produce some big points with all of that extra motivation? We’ll see.

Golden Knights – Sharks Game 4 from T-Mobile Arena will be Tuesday night at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. (Live stream)

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.

Jimmy Howard on Vancouver: “They’ve got a bunch of idiots over there.”

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Seeing the Canucks snap the Red Wings’ home winning streak the other night in the shootout left Wings fans disappointed. For Jimmy Howard, seeing the way Alex Burrows celebrated his shootout-winning-goal left him feeling a bit burned up.

As Art Regner of Fox Sports Detroit shares, Howard had a few things to say about Burrows’ celebration that will leave fans in Boston and Chicago nodding in agreement.

“I don’t even pay attention,” Howard said of the Canucks. “They’ve got a bunch of idiots over there. There are only several good guys on that team, and they know who they are.”

Idiots in Vancouver that aren’t the ones that tried to burn the city down? Surely ye jest. Based on past instances you can probably fill out the roster of players you believe qualifies for that label. Be it Burrows, Maxim Lapierre, or even Kevin Bieksa the Canucks have a pretty “fun” reputation.

Of course, Howard could still be burned up about getting schooled via backhand and losing Detroit’s first home game since early November. Let’s hope we get to see these two supposedly non-tough teams get to go at it in the playoffs to really amp up the crazy.

Paul Gaustad to Max Pacioretty: “Where’s Chara?”

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We might have to give the Sabres and Canadiens lessons on how to properly talk trash.

The Canadiens are upset at Sabres forward Paul Gaustad for asking Habs forward Max Pacioretty, “Where’s Chara?” after Patrick Kaleta scored the empty net goal to give the Sabres a 3-1 win. Making reference to Pacioretty’s incident with Chara last season that gave him a concussion and broken vertebrae didn’t sit well with the Habs.

Canadiens goalie Carey Price had a few choice words for Gaustad following the game as Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News found out.

“He’s got a big mouth and he likes to run it,” Habs goalie Carey Price said of Gaustad. “What can you do? Can’t worry about what he’s got to say. He doesn’t do much out there.”

Not doing much out there was just what the Canadiens were trying to do when their bench tried getting under Gaustad’s skin as Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette found out.

But the Canadiens got in a few verbal barbs of their own when they asked why Gaustad didn’t stand up earlier this year when Boston’s Milan Lucic ran over Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller.

The only thing that could make this better is if we got an overly sarcastic quote from Miller or had Sabres coach Lindy Ruff declare that it’s open season on everyone for really lame trash talk.

Ken Hitchcock thinks Barry Trotz is a villain

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Ken Hitchcock and Barry Trotz are rivals and they’re both solid coaches. That doesn’t mean that Hitchcock has to pump his tires all the time.

As their two teams set to square off tonight in Nashville, Hitchcock took some time out to paint Trotz as the enemy of the state, a tried and true master of evil, making us think back to when he called Trotz “Darth Vader.”

Joshua Cooper of The Tennessean gives us more of the tongue-in-cheek analysis from Hitchcock:

“He’s a villain, he’s a villain. He’s a villainous character. He’s got no sympathy for me. I told him last year, I said, ‘Trotzy I don’t think I’m going to get a job, so we’re going to stay in British Columbia for September and October.’ He says, ‘well that’s good, if you’re going to be there in September, the leaves need cleaning off my driveway on the summer place in Vernon.’ He says, ‘If you’re going to be there in October, can you work the eavestroughs and the gutters.’ So he’s got no sympathy.

Picture that if you can: Ken Hitchcock the house maid. Hope you already lunch to go with that mental picture.

Barry Trotz not being a guy to give someone else the upper hand, zinged Hitchcock right back:

“If I’m Darth Vader, he has to be Lex Luther [sic] right now.”

Darth Vader, Lex Luthor… All right, then who’s The Joker?