The Rangers have a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final Thursday with a win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final, but they will have to do so without one of their six regular defensemen. On Wednesday John Moore was suspended two games by the National Hockey League for "an illegal check to the head" of Canadiens forward Dale Weise in the third period of New York's 7-4 loss in Game Five of this series on Tuesday night.
Moore becomes the third player suspended during this series. Montreal's Brandon Prust was suspended two games for a late hit on the Rangers Derek Stepan, one that broke Stepan's jaw, and New York's Daniel Carcillo was suspended ten games for making contact with an official. Both of those suspensions took place after Game Three in this series. It was announced Wednesday that Carcillo's appeal to lessen his ban from ten games will be heard by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Friday.
The Rangers have two defensemen available to fill in for Moore during his suspension. Raphael Diaz has appeared in two games during this post-season, playing in Games Three and Four of the second round against the Pittsburgh Penguins while Moore was a healthy scratch; and Justin Falk has not appeared in any playoff games as of yet with the Rangers. In fact the 25 year-old Falk has played in just one game since December 29th--that the final regular season contest in Montreal on April 12th.
Moore has recorded one point while playing in 17 playoff games this spring. His lone point was an assist on Rick Nash's goal in the opener of the Eastern Conference Final in Montreal. Last spring he notched one assist in 12 games during his first-ever Stanley Cup playoff action.