Don't get caught in the Canadiens-Senators rivalry, argues Michel Therrien
Michel Therrien wasn’t happy Monday.
Trailing 2-1 in the club’s first-round series against the Senators and coming off a 6-1 loss in Game 3 Sunday at Scotiabank Place, the Montreal Canadiens coach didn’t like the insinuation he set off all the third-period fireworks.
Speaking following an optional skate Monday, Therrien maintained he didn’t let his emotions get the best of him, nor did his team throw in the towel when the brawl started with 12:56 left in the game and the Senators leading the game 4-1.
“Which guys were there to fight?” asked Therrien.
Told it looked like he had thrown in the towel, Therrien then went a step further.
“We played four lines all year long,” added Therrien. “If I were to put out guys who were going to fight ... one of our tough guys, Brandon Prust, where was he? I put out our fourth line.
“Travis Moen, Ryan White and Colby Armstrong. Colby Armstrong has fought two times in his career? (Jarred) Tinordi is a young kid. Francis Bouillon? Do you really think that was the purpose? Come on, I hope you know the game better than this. Don’t get caught in that rivalry ... That’s the line. Don’t get caught.”
The Senators can’t afford to get caught up in the hype, either.
While the Senators are in the driver’s seat in the 417 Series, they have a lot of work left to do if they’re going to win this series, and that starts with pushing the Habs to the brink of elimination with a victory in Game 4 Tuesday at home.
If the Senators can move ahead 3-1, they’ll return to Montreal on Thursday with a chance to end the series and move onto Round 2. Coach Paul MacLean was working hard Monday to make it clear the Sens haven’t won anything yet.
“We just came in and reviewed some bad things we did in the game, and some good things that we did,” said MacLean. “We just reiterated to the players that we haven’t accomplished anything, nothing.
“All we’ve done is win two games. The hardest part is yet to come. We know, and we’ve talked about, the fact (Thursday) is going to be even harder. That’s what keeps us on an even keel. We understand it’s going to be harder.”
Everybody knew the rivalry between the Sens and Habs would escalate as a result of this series, but nobody could have expected it would be at this level after only three games. The two teams combined for 236 minutes in penalties in Game 3 alone.
Nobody is sure what kind of carryover there will be in Game 4.
“Both teams play hard,” said winger Chris Neil. “There’s been a lot of hard hits, a lot of physical play and I think we’re going to see more of that in Game 4.
“It’s just a matter of who responds well to it. Game 1 we did, Game 2 they did and Game 3 we did.
“We want to win again and it take it to them again like we did in Game 3. We have to be physical and disciplined at the same time. It’s been (a big) part of this series so far.”
The Senators dropped the tough words and returned to rhetoric.
“Both teams are going to come out hard just like the last game,” said defenceman Erik Karlsson. “We’ve got to play good hockey.
“I expect we’ll do the same (Sunday). We want to win the game and they’re probably going to come out hard. We’ve got to try to get some early ones.”
Karlsson admitted the temperature has gone up.
“You play each other this many times and it’s obviously going to get more intense and people are going to be more frustrated at each other,” he said.
MacLean said the Senators can’t focus on what they’ve done well in the past. They need to look ahead.
“(Sunday) is behind me,” said MacLean. “I’m on to (Tuesday).”
The Sens can’t afford to rest on their laurels and they should take Therrien’s advice — don’t get caught up in the rivalry.