A recap of the craziness between Canadiens and Rangers

The Rangers' Chris Kreider slams into Habs goalie Carey Price in Game 1. Price has yet to play in...

The Rangers' Chris Kreider slams into Habs goalie Carey Price in Game 1. Price has yet to play in any other game thus far. (USA Today)

Mike Zeisberger, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:17 AM ET

Another day, another suspension, another allegation about underhanded tactics ... and so on.

Welcome to the Eastern Conference final between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers, where there never seems to be a dull moment.

Less than two weeks ago, there was collective whining about the lack of buzz surrounding this matchup. And understandably so.

How, after all, could this Original Six series even come close to the bitterness oozing from the second-round Bruins-Habs clash, arguably the most venomous rivalry in the sport?

Or, for that matter, the storybook tale penned by the Rangers to overcome a 3-1 deficit en route to pulling off the shocking seven-game upset of Sidney Crosby and the mighty Penguins?

Well, in many respects, it has.

Consider, for a moment, that as the Habs and Rangers get set to face off in Game 6 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden:

(a) The Habs’ Brandon Prust will return from a two-game suspension.

(b) The Rangers’ John Moore will start his two-game suspension.

(c) New York’s Derek Dorsett could be a target after seemingly head-butting the Canadiens’ Mike Weaver in the latter stages of Game 5, a 7-4 Habs victory on Tuesday night, not to mention the fact that a video has emerged showing him giving a pre-game snow shower to the kids wearing Habs jerseys who carried flags on the ice prior to Game 5.

Enough storylines for you?

While the Canadiens might have the momentum from that win, they are still the team with its back to the wall, trailing the series 3-2 entering yet another elimination game at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Just another chapter in a series filled with thrills, chills, spills and twists that even a Hollywood script writer would have trouble coming up with.

Here are some of the examples:

HEAD GAMES, PART 1

You have to wonder what was going through Moore’s mind when he slammed his shoulder into the head of Montreal’s Dale Weise with the puck already long gone in the third period on Tuesday.

Did he not see the late blow absorbed by his teammate Derek Stepan in Game 3, courtesy of Prust — a shot that left the Rangers forward with an injured jaw and the Habs pugilist with a two-game suspension of his own?

While Moore is not a dirty player, he needed to be smarter. Instead, he will miss the rest of the series.

As for Weise, Habs coach Michel Therrien did not give an update to the media after the team’s optional practice on Wednesday “because I haven’t seen him.” Weise, for the record, did return to the game.

HEAD GAMES, PART 2

It’s a bit surprising that Dorsett escaped supplemental discipline for appearing to use his noggin to clunk Weaver’s. Then again, this has been a playoff year featuring a handful of heinous acts in which players have speared an opponent in the family jewels and escaped suspension.

HEAD GAMES, PART 3

The interplay between buddies Therrien and Alain Vigneault has made for great theatre. Vigneault added to the intrigue on Wednesday by claiming he saw nothing wrong with the Moore hit while accusing Weise of admiring his pass.

These two have been volleying salvos back and forth, including allegations from the Rangers that Habs coaches were practically spying on New York’s practices by watching the workouts without permission.

Interestingly, the previous time these two teams met at Madison Square Garden, the two coaches arbitrarily met while arriving at the arena prior to Game 4. At one point, Therrien looked into the window of Vigneault’s white SUV, the two men exchanged words, then the Habs coach subsequently was seen laughing.

Therrien joked that he was just hoping Vigneault wasn’t going to run him down. If that’s the case, imagine the road rage Vigneault will have toward his chum if Therrien’s Habs come back to win this series. 

SEVENTH HEAVEN

In anticipation of the Habs extending this series to a Game 7, pop artist Corey Hart had to postpone his farewell concert at the Bell Centre, which was scheduled for Saturday.

“I didn’t sleep last night ... It’s been a really rough 24-48 hours for me and I’m quite gutted right now,” Hart told CBC Radio on Wednesday. “Due to the circumstances with the hockey series, we needed to make a decision.”

Hart had been planning the show for almost a year. Saturday was going to be the perfect night for it, since it fell on his 52nd birthday.

“We just kept our fingers crossed and hoped that the gods would keep May 31 clean for me,” said Hart.

Thanks to Rene Bourque’s hat trick on Tuesday, Hart was forced to make contingency plans instead. His show will now take place on June 3.

Of course, the Habs will have to win Game 6 in New York to force a Game 7.

The interesting twist to this story: We actually thought Corey Hart held his farewell show 15 years ago.

Wonder if he still wears his sunglasses at night? Just asking.

BIG APPLE BET

Of all the people pulling for the Habs, no one is likely hoping more for a Canadiens comeback than Youppi, the team’s fuzzy mascot.

As part of a bet between U.S. talk show host Jimmy Fallon and the Canadiens organization, Fallon will have to wear a Habs jersey for his monologue if Montreal wins the series.

Should the Rangers come out ahead, Fallon’s avatar will run on the Habs’ official Twitter account for a day. In addition, Youppi will be photographed in various locations around Montreal in a Rangers sweater.

“I’m coming for you, Youppi,” Fallon said in front of his television audience last week.

Watch out, oh Fuzzy One.

 

 

STAR POWER

If you don’t think this series has captured the imaginations of these two cities, here is evidence to the contrary.

At Games 3 and 4 at Madison Square Garden, the celebrities on hand included Robert De Niro, former NFL quarterback Norman (Boomer) Esiason and ex-tennis great John McEnroe, a buddy of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Meanwhile, in Montreal, Habs fever has allowed veteran Daniel Briere to become even more famous. Now his name is actually up in lights — at the local McDonald’s.

Indeed, on the illuminated menus inside the fast-food outlets here in Montreal, Mickey Dee’s is pimping “The Briere,” a chicken BLT.

Really, how much more fame can a player have than to have a McDonald’s sandwich named after him?

PIPE DREAMS

In the Olympic gold-medal game in Sochi, the starting goalies were the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist (Sweden) and the Canadiens’ Carey Price (Canada).

In the third period of Game 5 on Tuesday, the goalies were Cam Talbot for the Rangers and Dustin Tokarski for the Canadiens.

Didn’t see that coming, did ya?

CREASE CRASHING

The suspected right knee/leg injury suffered by Price in Game 1 was unfortunate. At the same time, it was interesting to see the Habs’ opinion on the collision between their star goalie and the Rangers’ Chris Kreider go from “accidental” to “on purpose” in the span of 48 hours.

Kreider was on a breakaway when he blew a tire and wiped out. He wasn’t trying to take out Price. He was attempting to score.

At the same time, the Rangers’ crease-crashing has become commonplace in this series. It is a league-wide issue that the NHL had better address during the off-season in order to protect their puckstoppers.

Interestingly, Therrien has been forced to tell the media almost on a daily basis that there is no way Price will return to the series, even though he was back on the ice in equipment on Tuesday.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped the conspiracy theorists from suggesting that the Habs might hoodwink the Rangers by parading Price out for Game 7, if there is one.

Could you imagine how bonkers the Bell Centre will be if that happens?

CLASS ACT

There are those who think Martin St. Louis isn’t the standup guy many make him out to be, feeling he blackmailed Lightning GM Steve Yzerman into trading him to the Rangers.

Fair enough.

But he’s been pretty classy in this series, dealing with his mother’s death while producing on the ice at the same time. Kudos, too, to the Rangers organization for having the team attend the service for his mom in nearby Laval.

Since the passing of his mom, by the way, St. Louis scored on Mother’s Day, opened the scoring in this series in Game 1 and tallied on Memorial Day.

LAST MINUTE OF PLAY

During the service for the St. Louis’ mother, a photographer from a French-Canadian media outlet was told that Guy Lafleur and Rejean Houle were walking out of the building.

“Which one is (Lafleur)?” the shutterbug asked a nearby Toronto sports columnist.

Really? You don’t recognize Guy Lafleur?

Don’t they kick you out of this province for that?

‘YES’ TO EMELIN?

Asked if banged-up defenceman Alexei Emelin would accompany the Canadiens to New York for Thursday’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final, coach Michel Therrien once again was a man of few words.

“Yes,” said the Habs bench boss.

That’s about all you are going to get out of Therrien these days.

Emelin did not suit up in Tuesday’s 7-4 Habs victory over the Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final at the Bell Centre. When queried about it after the game, Therrien took the concept of being “vague” to a new level by saying his young defenceman had a “body” injury, refusing to elaborate if it was upper or lower.

There is speculation that Emelin, who apparently was injured in Game 3, may have irritated a knee ailment he suffered earlier in the season.

If Emelin can’t play, he’ll likely be replaced in the lineup by young Nathan Beaulieu for a second consecutive game.


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