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That, too, rubbed Vigneault the wrong way.

“I can’t comment on their players saying 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 on the ice, we follow the rules off the ice.”

Derick Brassard returned to the Rangers lineup for Game 4 after being injured in the opener and sitting out two games. Therrien said Saturday that the Canadiens know what Brassard’s injury is, and suggested they could target him.

“There is no hockey player who is going to go on the ice, and no hockey coach is going to ask to hurt a player, but you have to play him hard,” Therrien said. “You have to play Derick Brassard, like we have to play all the New York Rangers: hard and with emotion. That’s playoff hockey. No one has a free pass.”

Vigneault cautioned Therrien that any further action could have serious consequences.

“I just hope that nothing happens to Brass,” he said, “because the player and Michel could be in trouble.”

Brassard filled in for Stepan, and J.T. Miller rejoined the lineup in place of suspended forward Daniel Carcillo, who received a 10-game ban for physical abuse of an official in Game 3.

Michael Bournival replaced Brandon Prust, and defenseman Francis Bouillon filled in for Nathan Beaulieu in the Canadiens lineup.

Vigneault and Therrien have known each other for a long time and came up in the coaching ranks together. Therrien said Sunday that Vigneault is “a good friend and an important person in my life.”

But with a trip to the Stanley Cup finals on the line, both said any personal feelings must be put on hold during the heat of the playoffs.

“Right now we’re battling for the same thing,” Therrien said. “We’ve got to put our friendship aside for, what, two weeks? I’m sure when everything is done and everything is over, as soon as we get a chance to see each other, we’re going to have a nice cold beer, like we did in the past. Nothing is going to change.

“It doesn’t mean that I have no respect for him. I have tons of respect. He’s one of the reasons why the Rangers are here.”

Vigneault, replaced by Therrien as coach of the Canadiens during the 2000-01 season, used fewer words in describing their relationship.

“He said for this two-week period we’re not really friends,” Vigneault said. “He is probably right.”