At times like these, the game of hockey takes a backseat to real life.
Just before Thursday’s press briefing, Flyers coach Alain Vigneault learned his good friend, Montreal Canadiens coach Claude Julien, had been hospitalized with chest pains after Wednesday night’s game at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
There was no official word on Julien’s current condition but Montreal general manager Mark Bergevin announced that Julien will not coach again in the best-of-seven playoff series, which will resume at 3 p.m. on Friday with Game 2.
Assistant coach Kirk Muller will take Julien’s place behind the Montreal bench.
“I didn’t see him after the game,’’ Vigneault said during a Zoom call. “I’ve known Claude since I was 20. So we go way back. Good friends. I’m obviously going to reach out with him.
“I just found out the news 20 minutes ago. I’m not exactly aware what happened.’’
What impact this will have on the Canadiens’ fortunes moving forward remains to be seen.
For now, Vigneault is more concerned about his friend than what sort of influence his absence might have on Montreal’s performance.
“There’s no doubt when I found out about it, a lot of things go through your mind,’’ Vigneault said. “We’ve been through different things throughout our relationship.
“All I know is what you guys know.’’
>JVR still effective in lesser role
James van Riemsdyk has spent most of his two tours of duty with the Flyers on a top six position.
He’s been dropped to the third line for much of this season and then on Wednesday night found himself skating on the fourth line with Nate Thompson and Tyler Pitlick.
“JVR on the fourth line or the first line doesn’t change the way he has to play,’’ Vigneault said. “Which is a north-south game, goes to the net, that’s where he scores most of his goals from.
“On that line, Tyler on the forecheck, Nate pretty hard up and down player. . .that line had some good looks yesterday. (JVR)) was very effective, got some different matchups than he would on a top line. Those guys (including Jake Voracek) need to be effective for us to be successful.’’
>Save of the year?
The save Carey Price made on Scott Laughton’s point-blank blast during Wednesday night’s game should either go to a vault in the Hall of Fame or maybe a time capsule.
Laughton took a pass from Kevin Hayes and appeared to have an open net. Price was far out of position and only center Nick Suzuki was left in the way. Price, sprawled on the ice, stuck his stick out and somehow got his paddle on the puck just enough to tip it over the crossbar.
Laughton had to tip his hat to the goaltender. He’s seen it a few times on replay and he’s still shaking his head.
“He’s a world-class goalie and one of the best for a reason,’’ Laughton said. “I honestly just tried to shoot it as hard as I could. I saw a little bit of an open net and tried to put it in.’’
To his credit, Laughton knew Suzuki was standing there and didn’t want to injure him. So that may have played into the turn of events.
“To be honest, I didn’t see him right away,’’ Laughton said. “You definitely don’t want to injure a guy when you’re that close to him. At the same time you have to try and score.
“I don’t know if it would have gone in if Price hadn’t gotten his stick on it but you definitely don’t want to try and take a slap shot at a guy’s head when he’s in the crease like that.’’