- The Canadiens practiced at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon, with all players except Carey Price and recently-recalled netminder Mike Condon taking part.
- A healthy scratch for the previous eight games, Francis Bouillon was paired with Mike Weaver for practice, while Nathan Beaulieu split time with Jarred Tinordi and Douglas Murray.
- With Brandon Prust set to miss the first game of his two-game suspension on Sunday night, Michael Bournival practiced alongside Daniel Briere and Dale Weise, while Prust rotated with George Parros, Ryan White and Travis Moen on Saturday afternoon.
- Prust met with the media on Saturday for the first time since receiving word from the NHL about his two-game suspension for a hit that left Derek Stepan with a broken jaw, clarifying his position on the situation and giving his thoughts on the league’s decision.
“The hit itself wasn’t really a topic in the hearing; it was all about the timing of it,” he shared. “It was my first shift of the game and I’m trying to create some energy. I want to get out there and get some body checks in. I see Step with the puck and I was kind of backtracking and did a good job getting in front of him rather than coming in right from the side. I kept my skates on the ice, my shoulder into his chest and I didn’t leave my feet. It’s just all about the timing and it’s fractions of a second. The NHL deems a hit late around 0.6 seconds and I’m about 0.8 seconds. That’s on me. It’s late, but my focus was on trying to make a good, clean body check and not leaving my feet. Everything about the actual contact was clean, it was just late.”
A longtime fan favorite at Madison Square Garden during his three seasons in New York, Prust knows his popularity among the Blueshirts’ faithful has waned over the past few days and he isn’t anticipating a warm welcome from fans or his former teammates when he returns to town for Game 6.
“I know obviously New York fans aren’t happy, and rightfully so. They’re passionate fans and they protect their players, just like their organization does and just like Montreal fans would do for me,” said Prust, who played with Stepan during the Rangers forward’s first two years in the league. “I’m not too worried – they’re not my fans anymore. I’m in Montreal now and those are my fans and that’s who I care about. I remember my time here and love this city and appreciate this organization, but I’m focused on getting ready and coming back for Game 6, not about that other stuff.
“I did text Step,” he added. “Once I found out he had a broken jaw, I reached out for him and texted him. I feel awful. I didn’t want to injure anybody, especially a friend of mine. I told him exactly what I told you guys. I hope he recovers well.”Lines and defense pairings at practice