With Derek Stepan recovering from surgery and Dan Carcillo suspended, the New York Rangers got some good news Saturday with word that Derick Brassard is healthy for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final with Montreal.
The Rangers centre left early in Game 1 with an upper body injury after being checked by Canadiens defenceman Mike Weaver and has not played since.
Brassard told reporters after practice that he was good to go. That brought a smile to the face of Rangers coach Alain Vigneault.
“I was told he cleared himself,” Vigneault said with a laugh. “That’s good to know. He didn’t tell me.”
As for Stepan, Vigneault says he was in hospital recovering from surgery to repair a broken jaw. Montreal forward Brandon Prust was suspended for two games by the league for the blindside hit.
As one might expect, Vigneault said Stepan was “unlikely” to play Sunday. The 23-year-old centre has not missed a game since coming into the league in the 2010-11 season.
Carcillo, meanwhile, was suspended 10 games for jostling a linesman in the aftermath of the Prust hit.
Carcillo declined to speak to reporters Saturday. But Vigneault said the player knew he needed to have kept control of himself.
“I can’t begin to tell you how bad he feels about the whole thing,” the coach said. “His situation, his personal future, the team. There’s nothing he can do about it now and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Forward Brad Richards called the abrasive Carcillo “a great teammate.”
“I heard a lot about him before but I don’t have one bad thing to say about him.”
The New York players, for the most part, had little to say about the length of the ban to Prust, a former Ranger. But goalie Henrik Lundqvist said that hot spots in the playoffs usually cool down in the off-season.
“Especially during the playoffs, you don’t see your opponents as friends, even though you’ve played with them. Right now I don’t have any friends in Montreal,” the stylish Swede said with a chuckle. “They’re just enemies and you play it that way. That’s your approach.
“But you also have to understand this game, you know, there’s a lot of players that play on the edge. That’s their role, that’s what they do. They’re always going to play it like that and sometimes things happen and maybe they take it a little too far. As it comes to relationships, as friends, in the summertime you move past it.
“But right now, do I like what happened? Absolutely not. But it’s on the ice, it happens on the ice. It is what it is.”
Game 4 is Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers lead the series two games to one.