Eveen though Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals will be played in Newark at the Prudential Center tonight, the Rangers held their morning skate in their home building, Madison Square Garden. All healthy players---inlcuding Brandon Dubinsky and the suspended Brandon Prust---took part in the skate.
Prust was informed Sunday night that he had been suspended one game for elbowing New Jersey's Anton Volchenkov in the head during Game 3, so he will sit out this evening's pivotal fourth game.
"It's definitely frustrating, but it's one game and I'll just let the guys do their thing and get a win," Prust said after the morning skate.
Prust will most certainly be missed on the penalty kill, where he is a standout partner alongside Brian Boyle, and his grit, tenacity, and physical play will be missed at even strength this evening.
"He plays a big part on the PK especially," noted Henrik Lundqvist. "But I think every time you have someone out of the lineup it opens the door for someone else to step up. He plays physical, but that goes for all of us---we all have to play physically on the ice. But the minutes he plays on the PK, someone needs to step up there and fill that."
It would seem that Stu Bickel (pictured)---who wore a forward's blue jersey at the morning skate and not a defenseman's red jersey---will take Prust's spot in the lineup this evening. Bickel had played in the first 16 playoff games this spring on defense befor ebeing scratched in favor of Steve Eminger for Game 3 in New Jersey on Saturday. Bickel has been held without a point, has four penalty minutes, and is a -2 in the post-season.
"This year it feels like we have more guys that can step up in critical moments and be the difference, and want to be the difference," Lundqvist said of missing another regular from the lineup tonight. "When there is a guy who is out, there are guys who are willing and able to step up. That's been the case all year."
Dubinsky took part in the skate on Monday and remained on the ice with Prust and goaltender Martin Biron for about 30 minutes after everyone else had retired to the locker room. However he said that he is not yet ready to return to the lineup, after having sat out due to an injuyr suffered in Game 7 of the first-round series with Ottawa.
"It's usually a Yes or a No, and for tonight it's a No, so we'll keep going and keep working on my conditioning and keep feeling better and hope to get to a place where I can get in the lineup," Dubinsky said after his skate this morning.
Dubinsky did point out that he is "feeling better". For his part Rangers head coach John Tortorella said he would not discuss his lineup this morning.
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