Daniel Carcillo may play in the Stanley Cup Final, after all.
On Tuesday, the NHL reduced Carcillo’s suspension for violating Rule 40, abuse of an official, to six games from the original 10-game ban.
In issuing the reduced sentence, the NHL revised its ruling to state Carcillo was in violation of Rule 40.4, in particular a player who “…deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation.” (NHL.com)As a refresher, the incident occurred in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Montreal Canadiens. Carcillo was initially given a charging penalty when he went after Brandon Prust after he hit Derek Stepan, but it was as he was being restrained by linesman Scott Driscoll where Carcillo got himself into trouble.
The rule states a player violating Rule 40.4 is subject to a suspension of no less than three games (not concrete after that), and Gary Bettman’s decision means Carcillo can return to the Rangers lineup for Game 4 at Madison Square Garden on June 11.
It’s by no means a make-or-break decision for the Rangers, as Carcillo was in and out of the team’s lineup throughout the playoffs, having played in just eight of New York’s 17 playoff games prior to the suspension, averaging about 9:20 per 60 minutes of game time.
Carcillo has two goals and 22 penalty minutes in the postseason, but if the series goes deeper or the Rangers get into trouble, he could potentially provide a physical boost to a team going up against a Kings squad featuring six of the top 10 in hits in the playoffs, and nine of the top 17.
By comparison, the Rangers have one player, Dan Girardi, in the top 10 in hits, so although Carcillo doesn’t have a ton of hits to his credit (18 in eight playoff games), he can still provide a potential spark.
If the series goes beyond a sweep, Carcillo could become more valuable thanks to his familiarity with the Staples Center, having started the season with the Kings before being traded to New York in January, as well as having played three seasons in Phoenix, a longtime divisional rival.
While he’s certainly not a game-changer, it has to comfort Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault to know he at least has the option from Game 4 onward.