OTTAWA - Paul MacLean wasn't at a loss for words Saturday.
As the Senators prepare to face the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of their playoff series Sunday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca
, 7 p.m. ET) at Scotiabank Place, the Ottawa coach had his audience of assembled media in stitches as he tried to deflect any talk about a war of words.
Michel Therrien felt MacLean had insulted the Habs by first saying defenceman Raphael Diaz was the one to blame for the devastating hit Eric Gryba put on Lars Eller
because of a bad pass. The Montreal coach was also upset MacLean called Diaz "61".
"I don't even know who No. 61 is on my team. Are you going to hold that against me? I'm from Antogonish, N.S. It's a small town," said MacLean, who held an optional skate.
"I don't know. There's an awful lot of number combinations and different names. If I hurt his feelings, 'Oh my God, I apologize for that' because I didn't know who the player on the other team's name was ... If that's a battle of words I don't see that.
"They're going to say what they want to say. Like I said I'm just working really hard at coaching my team and I'm not trying to coach the other team or anything else."
By the way, No. 61 on the Senators is defenceman Andre Benoit, who made his playoff debut Friday. But, MacLean isn't sure why the Habs were upset and used his words as a motivation.
There was no disrespect intended.
"I don't see it that way at all," said MacLean. "[Therrien's] entitled to his opinion obviously. All I did was say what the whole incident was, not just one piece of it.
"So if that's disrespecting them - they just want to take one piece of it and say this is what happened. All I did was say, 'No, this is what happened.' I just wanted to make sure my player didn't get painted as the villain - which he has been - and all he did was do his job.
"All I was trying to do was show the whole picture and not just the one little piece that they wanted to show. If that is disrespectful, they feel to them, well then I guess we feel disrespected from the fact all they want to do is talk about how a dirty a player or how vicious a hit it was by Eric Gryba. That respect goes both ways in this thing. The NHL has ruled on this
. To me it's over and it's done. Next question."
MacLean takes offence to Prust's comments
MacLean also responded to comments by Montreal winger Brandon Prust. He told reporters before Friday's game that the Habs "don't care what that bug-eyed, fat walrus
has to say."
"Well ... 'Bug-Eyed?' I've never been called that before. That's a new one," said MacLean. "Walrus? That's too easy. But I will tell you one thing I'm not fat. I might be husky but I'm not fat. So, I took offence to that."
Still, this series is no laughing matter.
Senators in good shape
The Senators are coming home in good shape after getting a split in Montreal. The Habs were without Max Pacioretty and Brian Gionta for Game 2 Friday
. Both made the trip to Ottawa and Therrien told reporters they're day-to-day.
The Habs are not intimidated by the prospect of playing at Scotiabank Place. They expect to have plenty of backing.
"We have such a great following everywhere," Montreal defenceman Josh Gorges. "I expect there be quite a few Canadiens' fans in Ottawa.
"Whether we're at home or on the road, I don't think our mentality can change. Obviously, we like being at home, the energy is always high and the fans are always great. We have to have that same mentality when we go on the road where it might not be as electric for us."
Whether the Habs have Pacioretty and Gionta or not, they won't try to change a thing.
"We've got to stick what made successful last game," said Gorges. "We've got to be a fast team, we've got to be first on pucks, we've got to push the pace. We're good when we keep putting pucks deep in the offensive zone.
"When we get our cycle game going we spend a lot of time in the offensive zone."
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