Less than three minutes into Game 3 of the Montreal Canadiens Eastern Conference Final game against the New York Rangers, Brandon Prust threw a very controversial hit on the Rangers center Derek Stepan.
Though the hit was not penalized, Prust surely will be hearing from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. The hit was made after Stepan had made a pass as he exited his own zone. Prust then came in from Stepan’s right side and drilled the Rangers center long after he had played the puck.
Stepan left the game and headed for the NHL mandated “quiet room” for concussion protocol but returned before the end of the first period. Prust will have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety today.
The hit was certainly late, but it is difficult to tell if the principle point of contact was Stepan’s head. If so, Prust will not be in the lineup in Game 4 and possibly longer. If the principle point of contact was the chest, Prust has a good argument that the officials on the ice just missed a two minute penalty and nothing more.
The NHL has really put their foot down on head shots in the past several years, and would not hesitate to suspend Prust because it is the conference finals. My guess is that Prust is banished to the press box for the next game and Michael Bournival replaces him on the Habs fourth line.
One player who is certain to miss Game 4 is the Rangers fourth line winger Dan Carcillo. Carcillo played just 1:45 in the game but was very busy. He missed a glorious scoring opportunity in tight to the Habs goal, hit Prust from behind and on his way to the box shoved a linesman three times, earning an automatic game misconduct, and almost definitely an automatic three game ban as well.