NEW YORK – Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien is upset with Rangers assistant Ulf Samuelsson. The Rangers are angry with Montreal Canadiens right wing Brandon Prust and linesman Scott Driscoll.
The Eastern Conference finals have plenty of juice. Coming up is Game 4 tonight, with New York leading the best-of-seven series 2-1.
Therrien was none too happy Samuelsson watched part of the Canadiens’ practice at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, contending he violated a “gentlemen’s agreement.”
“Coaches are not allowed to attend practices between games,” Therrien said. “Game day is different.”
Therrien said when his team saw Samuelsson there “we let them know.” He said this agreement is out of “respect” for coaches who want to make adjustments between games.
“It’s always been like that,” he said. “That’s the way it is.”
The Rangers remain upset they will not have top-line center Derek Stepan, who had surgery Friday for a broken jaw following an open-ice hit from Prust in Game 3.
New York coach Alain Vigneualt did not have an update on Stepan, other than to say the center was recuperating and “unlikely” to play in Game 4.
The Rangers, however, will have the services of third-line center Derick Brassard, who has not played since absorbing a check in Game 1 from Montreal defenseman Mike Weaver.
“I feel great. I’m good to go. I’m going to be in tomorrow,” Brassard said. “The reason why I’m playing tomorrow is because I’m 100 percent.”
He may be, but both the Canadiens and Rangers will be short-handed – Prust and New York left wing Daniel Carcillo were suspended Friday by the NHL for actions in Game 3.
Prust will miss Games 4 and 5 for his hit on Stepan. On Saturday, he lamented the “timing” of the hit.
“It’s fractions of a second,” said Prust, who went before a league hearing. “The NHL deems a hit late at 0.6 seconds and (this hit) was 0.8 seconds. That’s on me. It’s late. My focus was on trying to make a clean body check. Everything about the actual contact is clean. It’s just late.”
Prust added he swapped text messages with Stepan to express remorse after learning of the broken jaw.
While the possibility exists the Montreal wing could return before the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs, New York may not have Carcillo the rest of the way. He was banned for 10 games for physical abuse of an on-ice official.
As Prust was fighting New York right wing Derek Dorsett in the first period of Game 3, Carcillo elbowed Driscoll in the face as the linesman was escorting him to the penalty box. According to Rule 40.3 Physical Abuse of Officials, Category II: “Any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner which physical force is applied without intent to injure, or who spits on an official, shall be automatically suspended for not less than 10 games.”
Carcillo practiced with the Rangers Saturday, but declined to speak with media. A team representative said it was unclear if Carcillo would appeal the suspension.
If he does, it would be through the players’ union. A player has 72 hours to submit a written appeal to Commissioner Gary Bettman for a personal hearing.
“My biggest disappointment in the whole thing is probably what’s happening to Dan Carcillo,” Vigneault said. “At the end of the day, if the right call is made on the ice, that whole situation doesn’t happen. Dan didn’t have a penalty on that play. There was no penalty there.
“I still don’t understand why (Driscoll) grabbed him in that fashion. All (Driscoll) had to do was tell him he had a penalty; Dan didn’t know he had a penalty.
“In that split moment of grabbing him like that, obviously, it’s inexcusable what Dan did. ... His first comments to me was ‘I know I should have been in better control.’ He knows that. He should have been in better control there. He knows that. I can’t begin to tell you how bad he feels about the whole thing. There is nothing he can do about it now, and there is nothing we can do about it.”