Well, there it is, fans. In the NHL, a fourth-line nobody gets all of two games for blindsiding a first-line somebody and sending him into surgery for his face. If this were the NFL, Brandon Prust would be serving his teammates Gatorade for the rest of the playoffs after sideswiping Derek Stepan early in the first period of Game 3 at Madison Square Garden.
But it isn't. Instead, Prust will park himself in the press box for a couple games, while the Montreal Canadiens move on without him, with ease, since he's, well, easily replaced with another fourth-liner, most likely Michael Bournival. Prust has two assists in 12 games.
Meanwhile, the New York Rangers don't have another first-line center to sub for Stepan, who's tied for second in team scoring with 11 points in 17 games. Derick Brassard, their third-line center, is still listed as day-to-day after missing the past two games. Look for one or both of J.T. Miller or Jesper Fast to play in Game 4, especially since Dan Carcillo was suspended for 10 games for elbowing linesman Scott Driscoll.
Stepan is scheduled for surgery Friday night. The Rangers will find out Saturday morning whether he can play Sunday. If he can't, coach Alain Vigneault will have to decide whether to move Brad Richards up to the top line between Chris Kreider and Rick Nash or slide someone else into Stepan's spot.
Prust didn't received a penalty on the play. Stepan went to the dressing room after the hit, but he returned later in the period. Here's the explanation of the suspension from the NHL's department of player safety:
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