Rangers forward Brandon Prust has been suspended for one game by the NHL for his elbow to the head of New Jersey Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov during New York’s win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Prust had a telephone hearing, his first in five NHL seasons, with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on Sunday to discuss the elbow he landed to the back of Volchenkov’s helmet early in the second period of the Rangers’ 3-0 win on Saturday. New York leads 2-1 in the series that continues with Game 4 in New Jersey on Monday night.
Prust will miss that game and could be replaced by forward Brandon Dubinsky, who has been out since Game 7 of the first round because of an injured right foot.
Volchenkov stayed down on the ice for a bit before going to the bench. He was uninjured and didn’t miss a shift. No penalty was called on the play.
The punishment wasn’t more severe because Volchenkov didn’t sustain an injury, and Prust has no history of supplemental discipline.
However, Shanahan called the elbow ”reckless” and added that Prust flared his elbow to hit Volchenkov, in a video explanation that accompanied the announcement of the suspension.
Rangers coach John Tortorella defended Prust on Sunday and said he didn’t feel the hit warranted a suspension, but the NHL disagreed.
It is the 13th suspension handed down by Shanahan since the start of the playoffs, and the second levied against a Rangers player. Rookie forward Carl Hagelin was given a three-game ban in the first round for elbowing Daniel Alfredsson in the head that caused the Ottawa Senators captain to sustain a concussion and miss three games of the seven-game series.
Tortorella also implied that the Devils embellished injuries to try to receive power plays, and accused Dainius Zubrus of elbowing Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman, and Devils captain Zach Parise of launching himself at defenseman Michael Del Zotto.
He added that the Devils also set picks on the power play to free up Ilya Kovalchuk for shots and prevent the Rangers from getting into position to block them.
Devils coach Peter DeBoer called the claims, ”Comical.”
On Saturday, DeBoer said Prust’s hit was, ”Head hunting. Plain and simple.”