Just four days again, New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan underwent surgery to repair a fractured jaw suffered as a result of a hit by the Canadiens’ Brandon Prust in Game 3 of their Stanley Cup Playoff series.
Today he is skating on the ice with his teammates, wearing a full facial mask, and awaiting clearance to play in Game 5, according to ESPN.com.
If you’ve seen the video of the hit on Stepan, you’ll realize this is nothing short of miraculous.
Stepan, who has has three goals and 11 points in 17 games of this year’s playoffs, skated in the morning session at Bell Centre, and Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said the team’s medical staff will have to get together and discuss his status for Game 5.
“The only way he’s going to play is if he gets full medical clearance,” Vigneault said in his pregame briefing with the media. “That’s not up to him.”
The Rangers have an opportunity to close out the Eastern Conference finals against Montreal tonight, and getting Stepan back on the ice would be a huge boost both emotionally and from a game standpoint for the team.
“He’s a good, young player that is a big part of our team,” Vigneault said. “He plays huge minutes, plays 5-on-5, power play, penalty-killing. He’s the only right-handed face-off guy. So he’s a big part of our team and has been a big part of our team’s success.”