After Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens, the Rangers suffered a big blow in losing their top line center, Derek Stepan, to a broken jaw which required surgery with no definite timetable of return. The culprit, Canadiens forward Brandon Prust, who broke Stepan’s jaw with a hit up high in the first period of Game 3, was suspended two games for the hit, but regardless, it does not fill the Rangers’ void on the top line in Stepan’s absence.
A Ranger who has been stepping in and raising his level of play is fourth line center Dominic Moore, whose been playing extra minutes and filling in on the third line the last two-plus games after Derick Brassard‘s injury in Game 1, but with Brassard ready to return and play in Game 4 tonight, and with Stepan listed as unlikely to play, Moore will face an even bigger challenge.
In Game 4 tonight, Moore will be asked to play minutes on the Rangers’ top line centering Rick Nash and Chris Kreider. A very difficult task for Moore to say the least. Moore will have to raise his level of play even more tonight in Game 4 if the Rangers want to win and take a 3-1 series lead. If he does not, then it will most likely result in the Rangers’ top line being more of a liability than an asset in Game 4, resulting in a Rangers’ loss and an even series at 2-2, heading back to Montreal. It is as simple as that really.