A Montreal player got ejected for a hit from behind. A Philadelphia player faces suspension for a cross check to the face.
This is the classic Canadiens-Flyers series that history showed was coming. Don’t expect players to engage in an all-out brawl in warmups like Chris Chelios, Ron Hextall and teammates did during the 1987 playoffs, but Game 6 of this first-round series Friday will have plenty of hatred to spread around.
Theres no doubt that theres no love between both teams,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Like we expected, a very competitive series. Like we expected (Wednesday) night, a very competitive game. Thats what hockeys all about.
In Game 5, Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi hit on Travis Sanheim led to some stitches and a major penalty and ejection. Philadelphia defenseman Matt Niskanen’s stick also got up in Brendan Gallagher’s face to the point he was bleeding from his mouth and needed more evaluation Thursday.
Gallagher got up and seemed fine.,” Vigneault said. He was talking to the referees, and the whole time that he was on the bench he was talking to our players for the rest of the game.
While his team awaits the result of Niskanen’s hearing that could cause him to miss the rest of the series, Vigneault expects Gallagher to play in Game 6 (7 p.m. EDT, NBC Sports Network). The Canadiens wouldn’t expect any less from the agitating winger generously listed at 5-foot-9 who plays way bigger.
I would never count him out, said Kirk Muller, who’s coaching the Canadiens in Claude Julien’s absence. “Hes the heartbeat of our team. You can never question whether hes going to be in the lineup or not based on his situation medically. You can never count him out because of the character that he has.
There’s no counting out the Canadiens, the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference who knocked out Pittsburgh in the qualifying round and keep fighting back after falling behind 3-1 to Philadelphia. Tensions being up in this series for big hits, questionable ones, some post-whistle kerfuffles and even 21-year-old budding star Nick Suzuki patting Flyers goalie Carter Hart on the head after giving up a bad goal.
Desperation only brings the best out of Montreal’s young group.
Its playoffs, so every game, the intensity is going to get higher,” forward Charles Hudon said. “One game, if we lose, were out, so I think all our energys going to go for the next game and pretty much every single shift. Who cares what they did, who cares what we did, but Im pretty sure next games going to be a good one.
That’s one thing the Canadiens and Flyers agree on.
“Its going to be a fun game, for sure,” Philadelphia center Kevin Hayes said. “I think everyone knows whats at stake here and I think everyones going to bring their A-game.
ST. LOUIS vs. VANCOUVER, Canucks lead 3-2 (9:45 p.m., NBCSN)
The defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues blew a two-goal lead in Game 5 Wednesday night and now face the prospect of being eliminated in the first round by the much less experienced Vancouver Canucks.
Echoing Jordan Binnington’s confidence last season, coach Craig Berube doesn’t look nervous.
Weve been there before: We know how to win these games and how to play them,” Berube said. “This is what our team is built for. I told them at the beginning of this series that its going to be a long series, and this is how we play. This is our game. We wear teams down over time in a series, and were going to get to a Game 7.
Canucks coach Travis Green knows the competition his team is facing and said, We’re going to see their best.” But no one knows what goaltender Vancouver will face because Berube hasn’t announced his choice between Binnington and Jake Allen, who has played the past three games.
Allen has been much better in this postseason, though Binnington was in net when the Blues won the Cup.
Youve got to look at what your goalie did in the past at certain times and what hes done this year at certain times, Berube said. Jake Allen came in and did a real good job for us, and to me Binner at the start of the playoffs here in the round robin was excellent. Theyre kind of like our team right now.
That is to say, they’re not perfect. But St. Louis is the kind of team that can wear down an opponent over the course of a series and is right in it if it plays to the big, heavy, hard-working identity that got the job done last year.
We get pucks deep and we go to work and we grind teams down and thats what weve got to do, Berube said. Weve got to move the puck quicker. When were moving the puck quick, advancing it through the neutral zone, getting it in the offensive zone and getting after it, thats our game.
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