Stepan takes line rushes, but still needs ‘full medical clearance’ to play tonight

12 Comments

From NHL.com, on the possible return of Rangers forward Derek Stepan tonight in Montreal:

Stepan wore a plastic guard on his helmet to protect his surgically repaired jaw during the morning skate. He broke his jaw during Game 3 and underwent surgery Friday night.

He took line rushes in his usual spot between Chris Kreider and Rick Nash. He also worked in his usual spot on the first power-play unit with Kreider, Richards, Martin St. Louis and Ryan McDonagh.

But New York coach Alain Vigneault said after practice that the decision on whether Stepan would play tonight had yet to be made, and that it would be up to the team’s medical staff.

“There are a lot of things that have to happen for him to play tonight,” said Vigenault. “We are going to talk to him this afternoon and see how he reacted to the practice. Nutrition, obviously, is an issue at this time, so later on today we’ll talk to our doctors and we’ll talk to him and we’ll see how it works out.”

Vigneault added that the “only way [Stepan’s] going to play tonight is if he gets full medical clearance. That’s not going to be up to him. It’s going to be up to our medical staff to make sure that they feel he can play.”

Stepan was held out of Game 4, a 3-2 overtime victory for the Rangers, who can advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1994 with a win tonight.

Related: Prust ‘feels awful’ for hit on his ‘friend’ Stepan