With Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators set to start, the war of words escalated on Friday.
Montreal Canadiens forward Brandon Prust took offence to comments made by Senators coach Paul MacLean about the Eric Gryba hit on Lars Eller on Thursday night in which MacLean blamed Habs blueliner Raphael Diaz for making a risky pass up the middle of the ice from his own end.
"He's already showed enough disrespect," Prust told the media. "We don't really care about what that bug-eyed fat walrus has to say."
MacLean responded in kind, holding firm on his post-game perspective.
"I'm just trying to coach the game," MacLean said Friday morning. "They can say whatever they want to say, I'm going to say what I want to say and I am who I am. Don't matter to me - I'm just here to coach the team.
"Everyone was blaming my player for doing what he is supposed to do, all I did was point out what happened. I feel bad the kid got hurt - that's what happens, it's a hockey play that went bad for him. All you guys were going to stand around and say Eric Gryba was to blame and all I did was tell you what it was. If that is being harsh and being cruel to Player 61 - well, it's a big world eh? Grow up."
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, who didn't comment on Thursday night let his feelings be known as well.
"An inappropriate comment," Therrien stated. "No respect for the player on the ice who was bleeding, not respect for his family in the stands...This is why we have new rules to avoid those hits.
"That was a lack of respect to Lars Eller, a lack of respect to his family and I'm never going to accept that. Never."
The injury to Eller happened in the second period when Gryba delivered a high, blindside check on the Danish winger. Eller left the game on a stretcher and reportedly lost several teeth in addition to suffering a broken nose and other facial fractures. Gryba was given a major for interference and a game misconduct for the controversial hit.
"I had my shoulder down when he (Eller) received the puck. It's just one of those plays at the blue line," Gryba said in his defence. "I'm not out to hurt anybody. There was no point in arguing with the refs when they came to the box. They made up their minds and told me I was gone."
Gryba was suspended two games for the hit.
Eller's status for the remainder of this series is unknown, but he will miss Game 2. The Habs will also be without two of their top six forwards tonight as both Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty are out with upper body injuries. Gabriel Dumont, Jeff Halpern and Colby Armstrong will dress for the Canadiens tonight.
The Senators and Canadiens split four meetings during the season series, with each club winning two games on home ice.
Montreal was 14-7-3 as the host during the regular season, while the Senators were 10-11-3 on the road.
Game 3 of this series is set for Sunday in Ottawa.