Brandon Prust used to be Derek Stepan's teammate, when the two both played for the New York Rangers. Now that Prust is in the enemy colors of the Montreal Canadiens, he has to put friendships aside and perform the role he's paid to play. Sometimes that means stepping over the line, which Prust did when he leveled Stepan with a late hit early in Game 3.
That play proved to be a pivitol moment in Game 3 and maybe even the series as it was discovered that Stepan suffered a fractured jaw on the play. He underwent surgery and his status for Game 4 and beyond is in doubt
Prust was justly punished for his hit, getting a two-game suspension for interference, despite the fact that he was not penalized in the game.
So now that his punishment has been doled out, how does Prust feel about it? When asked if he agreed with the league's decision, Prust said he did.
“You know, if there's no injury, I was thinking -- I was thinking no games,” Prust said after Habs practice Saturday. “Once I heard that he had a broken jaw, I was thinking one, maybe two games. Once I heard about the injury, even when I looked at the hit after the game, I wanted to see the hit, and the timing never really came into mind. I was looking at the contact. And I thought it was pretty good. Then the next day I heard that it was all about the lateness of the hit.”
Prust regretted that Stepan got injured on the play and reached out to his former teammate via text. Prust said he got a short response back from the Rangers center.
Stepan's injury and the way the Rangers have been dealing with it was a hot topic among Canadiens players and staff after practice Saturday.
Habs forward Brendan Gallagher had a bit more pointed thoughts about Stepan's status.
Gallagher wouldn't be surprised if Stepan played: "He got up and was yapping and yelling, so I don't think the jaw was hurting too much."— ?rpon Basu (@ArponBasu) May 24, 2014
Darren Dreger of TSN reported that Stepan had a metal plate put in his jaw to stabilize it, so it sounds more serious than the Canadiens are giving it credit for.
It also sounds like Habs head coach Michel Therrien has a little advice for how the Rangers should handle Stepan going forward.
“I don't know,” Therrien said when asked if he agreed with his players that Stepan would play. “I talked to a doctor. When a player gets an operation like that it's really risky to play a player, but I don't know.”
Sounds like someone doesn't want to see Stepan on the ice and I'm guessing it's not because he's concerned about the Rangers' second leading scorer's health.
It's interesting how this series really ratcheted up in intensity the last few days. There has been no shortage of on-ice hostility, but a lot of the battles have been more verbal through the media it seems. The games have been heated as well, but there sure seems to be a lot of chatter between the two sides.
This is the kind of stuff that makes a good series even more compelling, so it will be interesting to watch.