The Eastern Conference final of the Stanley Cup playoffs has seen more than its share of punishing hits…and league intervention.
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When the New York Rangers lace them up tonight at Madison Square Garden looking to close out the Montreal Canadiens in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, it will be their 20th game in an exciting but grueling Stanley Cup playoff run.
But they’ll be trying to avoid a third consecutive Game 7 without the services of defenseman John Moore, who was suspended two games for an illegal hit to the head of Canadiens forward Dale Weise. They’ll also be without forward Daniel Carcillo, who’s currently appealing a 10-game suspension for elbowing a referee in the head in a Game 3 melee involving teammate Derek Dorsett and Habs enforcer Brandon Prust, who returns to the ice tonight after serving two games for a vicious blindside head shot to Derek Stepan (who returned with a broken jaw to score two goals Tuesday).
Meanwhile Dorsett and Rene Bourque, who had a hat trick Tuesday, just escaped suspensions after the league reviewed a ruckus involving a head butt and an attempted cross-check at the conclusion of Game 5.
Whether this series has grown especially chippy since Chris Kreider knocked out Canadiens goalie Carey Price in Game 1 or the league is cracking down in an effort to reduce head injuries and clean up the game for the national audience, one thing is clear: It will be two dinged-up, shorthanded teams taking the ice tonight in a must-see battle.