Updates from Wednesday, March 28
Renaud Levoie of TVA Sports spoke to Canadiens coach Michel Therrien about Brandon Prust's status for Game 6:
#canadiens Michel Therrien just said that Brandon Prust will play game 6.— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) May 28, 2014
Big hits are a huge part of hockey, but sometimes they come with consequences.
Early in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final, Brandon Prust of the Montreal Canadiens knocked down Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers with a high shot that appeared to be late.
SportsCenter reports that Prust received a two-game suspension:
Canadiens F Brandon Prust suspended 2 games for Game 3 hit on Derek Stepan. Stepan is out indefinitely w/ broken jaw. pic.twitter.com/6uNNnmAVCK— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 23, 2014
NHL.com breaks down Prust's discipline via video:
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail and Arpon Basu of LNH.com provide comments from Brandon Prust:
Prust says his intent wasn't to injure Stepan, whom he called a friend— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) May 24, 2014
Prust said his hit was 0.8 of a second late, NHL standard is 0.6: "That's on me. It's late. But my focus was on making a clean body check."— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) May 24, 2014
Prust says he agrees with the suspension, especially after he heard about Stepan's injury. No controversy from him.— James Mirtle (@mirtle) May 24, 2014
Newsday's Mark Herrmann sheds light on a text sent from Prust to Stepan:
Brandon Prust texted former NYR teammate Derek Stepan to say, `I feel awful' about Step's broken jaw— Mark Herrmann (@markpherrmann) May 24, 2014
The hit was so bad it broke Stepan's jaw, according to the Rangers' official Twitter account:
As a result, the league is ready to take action. According to the NHL Department of Player Safety (h/t Brian Stubits of CBS Sports), Prust will have a hearing for the incident:
Montreal forward Brandon Prust will have a hearing today for interference for his hit on New York forward Derek Stepan.— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) May 23, 2014
While it remains to be seen what type of punishment will come from the devastating shot, it is clear that Rangers coach Alain Vigneault wants something done. Katie Strang of ESPN quoted him after the game:
#NYR AV on Prust hit: "Late hit, everything you want to get out of the game, that was his hit on Stepan."— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) May 23, 2014
Chris Johnston of Rodgers Sportsnet has Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien's thoughts on the matter:
Michel Therrien on Prust hit: "His intention, honestly, was not to hurt Stepan."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 23, 2014
Michel Therrien understands Alain Vigneault's frustration. "Losing a player, it sucks."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 23, 2014
The Canadiens ended up winning Game 3 in overtime, but the Rangers still lead the series 2-1. Stepan has been a big part of his team's success with a goal and four assists in three games. For the playoffs, the 23-year-old center has three goals and eight assists in 17 contests, posting a point in five games in a row.
With him out of the lineup, New York's ability to score is badly damaged.
Obviously, this makes the league's decision with Prust that much more important. The NHL must send a message to the veteran forward and the rest of the sport that they will not be able to get away with knocking out key opposing players without consequences.
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