Monday, May 21, 2012

Prust suspended, Bickel in

Brandon Prust was suspended yesterday for tonight's Game Four for his elbow to the back of Anton Volchenkov's head. The right call by Brendan Shanahan even if some of our fans act like babies due to the inconsistency.

I can't speak for Larry Brooks or others on whether Dainius Zubrus' elbow to Anton Stralman was suspendable. I still haven't seen it or the Zach Parise hit on Mike Del Zotto. What I will say is that it's time to let it go. Plenty of teams would love to be in our position. A win would put us up 3-1 in the best-of-seven Conference Final against our top rival.

Leave the complaints to John Tortorella, who was very unsatisfied yesterday. The most important thing is that the Rangers have a great opportunity here to make it easier on themselves. They have this uncanny habit of not playing up to par with a chance to lead 3-1. The Devils aren't Ottawa or Washington. It's not advisable to mail it in. They must come with their best effort if they want to a shot to wrap it up back at The Garden Wednesday.

With Pete DeBoer splitting up Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, it puts more pressure on Tortorella to choose who he wants Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi against. Both lines should be equally difficult to handle. Marc Staal and Mike Del Zotto will have the added responsibility throughout the game.

Many think Prust's loss isn't a big deal but they couldn't be more wrong. Brandon plays an important role as a physical, grinding forward who can penalty kill and log key minutes. Stu Bickel won't get many shifts, which is why Tortorella better give increased responsibilities to Artem Anisimov and Ruslan Fedotenko. Both play each end and are good forecheckers. If they're not with Brian Boyle, that might not bode well.

Mike Rupp is trying hard but still has a penchant for taking bad penalties. I get that Tort wants to use him against David Clarkson. But doesn't it make more sense to have two guys who can skate and help Boyle's line offensively?

I won't see much of the game due to our friends honoring the two-year memory of a close friend. Priorities. I'll have my phone for text updates and then catch some of it when we head to Applebee's.

I'm sure Hasan will have plenty to say later.

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