Derek Stepan (broken jaw) will not play in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final on Sunday, although he is not hospitalized and home recovering.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Stepan stopped by the morning skate to say help to teammates and that there is no timetable for his return.
So, as reported yesterday, Derick Brassard, now healthy, and J.T. Miller will dress.
In his briefing, Vigneault remained irked at Canadiens coach Michel Therrien and some players for their actions and comments on Saturday, which caused quite a stir.
Where to start? Well, too bad the HBO cameras haven’t been embedded for the series.
On Saturday, you may recall, Ulf Samuelsson and some assistants were asked to leave the stands while watching Canadiens’ practice. “We were treated very unfairly yesterday,” Vigneault said. “There is no rule, there was no agreement between both teams (to not observe). I’ve been asked in the past to do this on a couple occasions. Usually the coach calls me or the GM calls the GM; never happened. What happened yesterday was uncalled for. Without a doubt, my staff handled it with a lot of class, just like our team, play whistle to whistle, don't get involved with the other stuff. We're very credible. This is the National Hockey League, and that type of behavior, we're lucky it didn't escalate.”
Vigneault also noted Therrien’s implied threat to Brassard, saying that the team knew where his injury was. “Let's put it this way, I hope nothing happens to Brass; the player, and Michel could be in trouble."
As for Daniel Briere’s accusation that Stepan's injury is “fishy”, Vigneault said. “We're trying to play whistle to whistle. We're trying to do the right things. I know in the hockey world we were painted as dishonest and dishonorable; we're not. We follow the rules. We follow the rules on the ice, and we will follow the rules off the ice…I wish a lot of this stuff didn’t happen. When it does, you deal with it. I don't think it has a major effect, if any, on the ice. I don't think it helps our game, but some people decide otherwise."
Briere also compared Ryan McDonagh to former Flyer Chris Pronger in terms of regular slashing of opponents, and Vigneault responded: “Ryan McDonagh plays the game in an honorable way. He's one of the best defensemen in the league, in my estimation. The Habs can have their own view.”
Asked if the trash-talking heightens his desire to beat Therrien, a long-time friend, and the Habs, Vigneault said: “My desire before the series started was as high as it could be, and we want to move on and compete for the Stanley Cup. This other fluff-fluff stuff, you'd have to ask them… I think he (Therrien) said prior to the series, for this two-week period, we're not really friends, and he's probably right.”