Speaking to the media today, Alain Vigneault confirmed that Derek Stepan is still in the hospital recovering from surgery to his broken jaw he sustained after a hit from Brandon Prust in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Prust was suspended two games for the incident.
Vigneault also informed the media Stepan was unlikely for Game 4. This comes on the heels of Derick Brassard announcing he is in for Game 4 after missing two straight games (and 99% of Game 1) with an upper body injury. It's important to note that Dan Carcillo won't be available after being suspended for 10 games for abuse of an official -- which also happened in Game 3.
The question now becomes who will play in Stepan's place? During practice today Dom Moore (who has been an everything-man for the Rangers in the wake of these injuries so far in the postseason) jumped up to the top two lines. That might not make much sense on the surface, but if you dig deeper it actually might make the most sense.
J.T. Miller -- who has played in three playoff games so far this year -- might be the best option in terms of trying to replace the skill and offensive IQ of the injured Stepan. The problem with Miller, however, is his issues in the defensive zone; where Stepan has thrived this entire postseason. That issue within itself makes Moore a more attractive replacement since he'll be able to handle those defensive issues while still bringing some offense.
Jesper Fast might be an option as well, especially since the Rangers can split Brian Boyle and Moore up and put them on two separate lines if needed. To this point the Rangers biggest strength has been their speed and Fast ... well, he's fast. So that might be an option, too.
Another theory I saw some people asking about was bringing in Raphael Diaz and moving John Moore (who is also very fast) up to the fourth line. I'm not sure how much sense this makes since the last time this happened (the Matt Gilroy experiment) it was a total disaster. And at this point in the playoffs against a team as dangerous as the Canadiens, I'm not so sure the Rangers want to mess with their fourth line that much. Especially since the fourth line has been so important to the Rangers' success this year.
Anyway, who do you guys think should replace Stepan?