Lose one Derek, get another Derick back. That appears to be the case for the New York Rangers headed into tomorrows' game 4 against the Montreal Canadians. Derick Brassard practiced today and said he's good to go after missing the past two games with an apparent shoulder injury. Derek Stepan, on the other hand, is still in the hospital following surgery to repair a broken jaw, and Alain Vigneault deemed him unlikely to play Sunday.
It's not unheard of to play through an injured jaw — Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf played through a possibly broken one after taking a slap shot to the face in round one — but for now, it appears Stepan will miss at least one game. When he does return, it will be with some added protection surrounding his damaged face. While some may cry foul that Brandon Prust received just a two game suspension — and rightfully so, three or four would've been more fitting — for taking out the Rangers' center, it would still be wise to bet that Stepan see's the ice again before Prust does.
As for the Blueshirts' lines in Stepan's absence, Dominic Moore took the US Olympian's spot in middle with Rick Nash and Jesper Fast (subbing for Chris Kreider, who had a "maintenance day"), while J.T. Miller stepped into the suspended Dan Carcillo's position on the fourth line. Derick Brassard was back between Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello, while the Brad Richards line remained unchanged.
Provided Brassard is fully healthy — or at least reasonably close to 100% — swapping him with Stepan is essentially a wash. Stepan has five points this series — after posting just six total in the prior two rounds – but Brassard has more goals (4), despite seeing significantly less average ice time per game, and his line has been the Rangers' most dangerous five-on-five unit for most of the season. Where Stepan will be missed is on the power play — the 23-year-old has five of his 11 playoff points with the man advantage, and is one of Blueshirts few right handed shots.
- Michel Therrien said — in French, as translated by TVA's Renaud Lavoie — "We expect Derick Brassard to play and we know exactly where he's injured. Hockey is a small world." Read into that as you want, but it would be wise for Brassard to skate with his head up when he returns.
- Henrik Lundqvist on whether it's awkward with Prust, a friend, hitting Stepan: "Right now, I don't have any friends in Montreal."
- Brandon Prust sent Derek Stepan a text message apologizing for breaking the jaw of his "friend," and said "I feel awful."