In the midst of bad blood on and off the ice, and just four days removed from Brandon Prust catching Derek Stepan with a blindside hit and earning himself a two-game suspension, Rangers defenceman John Moore caught Canadiens forward Dale Weise with an equally bad hit, if not worse.
An already-contentious Eastern Conference Final between the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers just got even more tense.
Down 6-4 midway through the third period, Moore came across the middle of the ice and caught Weise looking the other way with his arm raised, with the head looking like the principle point of contact.
Moore was given a five-minute major for elbowing and a game misconduct for the hit, though I highly suspect he’ll also be getting a call from league disciplinarian Stephane Quintal as the teams return to New York for Game 6.
Even though Prust’s hit came later than Moore’s, according to Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman, the point of contact has to be considered here, and the optics certainly aren’t good.
We’ll have to see what kind of role injury plays in this. Hours before Prust’s suspension was announced, Stepan was diagnosed with a broken jaw (he returned in Game 5 with additional facial protection, scoring twice). In this case, Weise looked woozy as P.K. Subban held him back from going after Moore, but we’ll see if there’s anything there.
If Prust’s hit got two games, I’d expect around the same for Moore, if not a game or two longer, primarily because of where the contact was made.
You have to wonder just what was going through Moore’s head to throw that hit at that time. Yes, Weise threw a hit Moore would consider questionable earlier in the game (perhaps responding to Moore hitting him hard before that), but in that situation, you’re better off just taking the number and moving on instead of putting your team in an even worse position than they were already in.
With all due respect to seventh defenceman Raphael Diaz, Moore is the better option on the back end with Kevin Klein on the third defensive pairing, as he’s bigger and more mobile. The Canadiens would also be able to potentially exploit their former teammate in Diaz, meaning Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi may need to play even more minutes to try and limit Diaz’s exposure.
It’s not a good situation for the Rangers to be in, especially against a team with its back still very much against the wall.