A massive hit by Boston Bruins winger Matt Beleseky has put New York Rangers center Derek Stepan out of Friday’s matinee, and there could be concern that the 25-year-old pivot could miss more than just the third period of the Thanksgiving contest.
Around the midway mark of the second frame, Stepan was attempting to make an outlet pass from the Rangers’ zone when Beleskey finished his check and sent Stepan sailing head and shoulder first into the boards. New York defenseman Dylan McIlrath dropped the gloves with Beleseky following the hit, while Stepan struggled to his feet before heading to the bench:
Stepan didn’t join the Rangers immediately to begin the third period, but, according to the NHL’s scorekeeping, took one, 33-second shift that began 45 seconds into the frame. After that, Stepan headed to the dressing room.
Shortly after the third period began, the Rangers announced that Stepan would not return to the contest, and post-game the news got even worse. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault told media after the matinee game that Stepan broke a couple ribs and will be out indefinitely.
The hit by Beleskey went unpenalized and don't expect Beleskey to face any supplemental discipline. While the hit was maybe a split second late, it wasn’t egregious and Stepan wasn’t defenseless. Additionally, Beleskey didn't blindside the Rangers center and it was the continuation of a check. The resulting injury to Stepan came only because of the collision with the boards.
The only penalties on the play came to Beleskey and McIlrath for fighting, with the Rangers blueliner also picking a minor penalty and 10-minute misconduct for instigating.