NEW YORK – In Friday’s notebook, rivalries are built in the playoffs, Chucky needs to get trigger happy, Therrien gets input across the board and Bergevin is up for some end of season hardware.
Rivalry in the Making: Coming off a heated series against the Boston Bruins where motivation was high long before the series-opening puck drop, the hate meter dipped slightly heading into the Eastern Conference finals against New York. Far from a longstanding rivalry, the Canadiens and Rangers don’t exactly have a history of animosity, but the way the third round is shaping up, that appears to be trending in a different direction. From Chris Kreider’s spill into Carey Price to end the All-Star netminder’s series in Game 1, to Brandon Prust breaking Derek Stepan’s jaw with a hard check in Game 3 and Daniel Carcillo suspended for 10 games for breaking rule 40.3: physical abuse of officials, there are plenty of extra storylines coming out of the East.
“The hit set the tone for the game. For sure they didn’t like it, but I think it woke everyone up,” confirmed David Desharnais of the Prust hit, which also led to Prust’s second fight of the postseason, this time against Derek Dorsett. “The rivalry with Boston is a lot bigger, but with games like we had yesterday, you can feel it growing with the Rangers.”
Pull the Trigger: After suffering an injury on April 9 against the Blackhawks, Alex Galchenyuk was forced to miss the first two rounds of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Cleared for action at the start of the series against the Rangers, the 20-year-old forward finally got to enjoy his first taste of postseason action in Game 2 on Monday, registering two shots in just over 13 minutes of action. Flanked by a pair of veterans in Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta in Game 3, Galchenyuk looked more comfortable with each passing shift, and while the young sniper only registered a single shot against the Rangers, he made sure to make it count.
“I’ve been telling him [to shoot more] all season long,” joked Plekanec, who set the table for Galchenyuk’s stomach-to-stick bank shot, helping the budding superstar become the youngest overtime goal scorer in franchise history. “He’s a young kid, he’s a skilled guy and he can make a lot of plays. He can pass the puck anywhere you ask him to. Not just him, but all of us need to shoot more. That’s something we need to get better at in this series. He came back strong. He played great the last couple games and he’ll continue getting better.”
Polling Data: When head coach Michel Therrien opted to roll the dice with rookie netminder Dustin Tokarski for Game 2 instead of calling on veteran backup Peter Budaj, it wasn’t a decision he took lightly or made unilaterally. In addition to talking it over with management and his coaching staff, the Habs’ bench boss also sat down with two of the team’s leaders to get their take on how the players would respond to the move.
“Communication is so important,” explained Therrien on casting a wide net to gather input before making the final decision. “When you make a call like that, before it became final, I sat down with our captain, Brian Gionta, and I spoke with Josh Gorges to explain to them why we were making that decision. They were both in agreement.”
Everybody Loves Bergy: For a second year in a row, Marc Bergevin has been named a finalist for the NHL’s General Manager of the Year Award. Taking over a team that finished 2012 in the Eastern Conference basement to not only make the playoffs, but finish in the Top 5 in the East in back-to-back years, Bergevin has made some impressive moves in his first two years in office. After bolstering a team already on its way to a 100-point season at the 2014 trade deadline by bringing in Mike Weaver, Dale Weise and Thomas Vanek, the Habs’ GM is the only nominee from the conference in the running for the annual award this year. Bergevin will be up against fellow repeat nominee Bob Murray from Anaheim in addition to LA’s Dean Lombardi.
“That’s great news. Since Marc joined the organization, he’s done an incredible job,” praised Therrien. “With his charisma, his emotion, his knack for making good decisions, that’s all helped make the Montreal Canadiens a better team than they were when he arrived in Montreal.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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