Well, here’s a new wrinkle to the Brandon Prust hit on Derek Stepan in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final: The New York Rangers center needs surgery on his injured jaw, the team announced Friday morning.
According to Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, Stepan broke his jaw in Game 3 and is getting it operated on. There’s no timetable for his return, although surgery doesn’t always automatically mean a lengthy absence.
Stepan has three goals and eight assists in 17 playoff games for the Rangers, but has been especially hot lately: seven points in his last five games. One of those was an assist on Chris Kreider’s game-tying goal in Game 3 before the Montreal Canadiens won it in overtime.
Stepan left the game in the first period but returned later in the period. He skated 17:46 for the game.
The Rangers say they weren’t aware of the broken jaw until he was re-evaluated this morning.
While this could be a significant blow to the Rangers’ offense, it could also significantly affect the suspension that Prust is facing from the NHL. And while no one will confuse the two’s contributions to their teams’ success, Prust does bring an element of physicality and agitation that the Habs are clearly going to have to bring to get the Rangers off their game, as they did during the early part of Game 3.
How much does this news affect that suspension?