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Rangers Prepare For Game 4 Without Suspended Prust

Following a game three elbow that caught the head of Devil defensemen Anton Volchenkov, the NHL has suspended Brandon Prust for one game.  Now the Rangers will have to try and take control of this series – which they lead two games to one – without an emotional leader and one of their best penalty killers. @JoeBianchino

Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

For yet another time in these playoffs, the NHL’s disciplinarian overlords have chosen to err on the side of…well, who knows what the hell the NHL is choosing to err on the side of.  Little can be said in support of their use of precedent or formal code of law – as there has been none – but in truth, an objective look at Prust’s elbow yields the thought that this suspension is likely warranted.  In a video explaining the decision, Brendan Shannahan – the NHL’s Master Disciplinarian (likely not his actual title) – said that while Prust has never been suspended in his five year career, the hit was “Reckless.”

And so the Rangers now find themselves tasked with strolling into Newark and cementing a stranglehold on this series without an important piece of their lineup.  While Prust is not a dynamic goal scorer – what Ranger is? – his constant energy, vociferous effort, and rock-steady presence on the penalty kill are invaluable to the Blueshirts.  Stu Bickel will likely be brought back into the lineup to try and fill the void left by Prust.  A worrisome prospect?  Absolutely.  But don’t expect this Ranger team to fold.

Others like Rupp and Callahan will take his place as a catalyst for momentum, and forwards like Stepan and Fedotekno will step up on the penalty kill.  Ultimately, this suspension is just another in a long line of challenges faced by the Rangers in these playoffs, but as was illustrated in those battled previously, there is no team in the NHL more equipped to deal with adversity than the Blueshirts.

Coach Tortorella – who chastised the Devils for diving and embellishing on a Sunday call with the media – will have the East’s top seed ready to play Monday night.  They’ve fought through Hagelin’s suspension, they rallied on the road facing elimination, they found a goal in the last seven seconds of the period, Prust’s suspension won’t be enough to doom this squad.  Believe Ranger fans.  Believe.

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