After winning their third elimination game of this postseason – beating the New York Rangers 7-4 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final Tuesday night at the Bell Centre – the Canadiens held an optional practice Wednesday morning in Brossard before flying to New York for Game 6 Thursday night (8 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
Canadiens goalie Carey Price – who has been sidelined since suffering a knee injury in Game 1 against the Rangers – was on the ice for the second straight day in full equipment in Brossard before his teammates, working with goalie coach Stephane Waite for about 30 minutes.
Alexei Emelin, who missed Game 5 with an undisclosed injury, made the trip to New York with his teammates but his status for Game 6 is uncertain. Brandon Prust, who has finished serving a two-game suspension for a late hit on Derek Stepan in Game 3, will return to the lineup for Game 6. There was no word who would sit to make room for Prust.
After practice, forward Lars Eller was asked for his thoughts about the series so far.
“I think it’s been completely unpredictable,” he said. “Game 1 was just a game you want to forget and just a game where everything that could go wrong went wrong. Then we played really good Game 2, lose. Didn’t play very good Game 3, won. Game 4, up in the air, could have went either side. And Game 5 we played the best hockey in this series. Some games have not been very many goals. And some games have been scored 10 goals. It’s been a weird series.”
The NHL announced late Wednesday afternoon that Rangers defenceman John Moore has been suspended for two games for his illegal hit to the head on the Canadiens’ Dale Weise during the third period of Game 5. Moore received a major penalty on the play and was ejected from the game.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was asked Wednesday morning by reporters if he had a chance to review Moore’s hit.
“Yes, by league standards, and I know the league standard very well because of the (Aaron Rome hit on the Bruins’ Nathan Horton) a couple years ago in the Boston series against my former team in Vancouver, and it doesn’t meet the league standard as far as a late hit,” said Vigneault, who added he thought Weise got caught admiring his pass. “It was a hit that Johnny caught him a little high in the chest, player didn’t see it coming. It probably warrants the penalty that was given on the ice. Other than that, I don’t see what else it could warrant, but I’ve been surprised before. We’ll see what happens.”
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien was asked after Wednesday’s practice about Vigneault’s comment that Weise was admiring his pass.
“What Alain is saying it’s normal,” Therrien said. ” He’s there to protect his players with his comments, and any coach is going to say those types of things. But we all saw the hit. It’s in the league’s hands and I’m sure they’re going to take the good decision, so that’s the way we see it.”
When asked how Weise was on Wednesday, Therrien said: “I didn’t see him this morning.”
Rangers forward Brad Richards was asked Wednesday if his team had lost its composure for the first time in the playoffs during the Game 5 loss to the Canadiens.
“There are a lot more problems losing our composure in our stretch of the game, getting into whatever you call that game,” he said. “I don’t see many of those games in playoffs. But you get into that where we were just cheating and hoping, and some of it was a product of being down 4-1. But even as we were getting momentum there, we were still doing it and playing with fire that way. Just the whole structure of the concept, we just broke away from it for whatever reason and never got back into it.”
Rangers defenceman Marc Staal was asked if he’s concerned that the Canadiens have a lot of life in them after the Game 5 win.
“Yeah, you win a game and things change in your locker room and you start feeling better about yourselves,” he said. “Yeah, obviously, we know how it feels coming back in a series like that, but it doesn’t change anything in our room. We were as confident as ever going into our building and looking forward to it.”
Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges was asked Wednesday if there’s anything he wants to change going into Game 6.
“I don’t think we want to change too much, just be a little sharper,” he said.
(Photo by Allen McInnis/The Gazette)
(Game 5 locker-room videos by The Gazette’s Brenda Branswell)