New York Post

With Derek lost, Hayes moves back to center


BOSTON — The Rangers’ organizati­onal depth hadn’t been tested through the first seven of weeks of the season, through which the club lived large and healthy.

But now it will. Derek Stepan is sidelined indefinite­ly with broken ribs he suffered Friday on a late hit from Matt Beleskey during the second period of the Blueshirts’ 43 defeat to the Bruins.

Kevin Hayes will slide back into the middle, as he did when Stepan left the match after the second period. Viktor Stalberg, a healthy scratch, will rejoin the lineup. Emerson Etem, who got 13:31 on Friday, will get a chance for an extended run.

But the Blueshirts, at the minimum 12 healthy forwards, will be obliged to make a recall from the AHL Wolf Pack before long.

Tanner Glass, assigned to Hartford on Oct. 21 after clearing waivers, is an option. So are Jayson Megna and Ryan Bourque, and center Adam Tambellini could be in the picture if the Rangers believe the firstyear pro can handle topnine responsibi­lity.

Coaches Alain Vigneault and Claude Julien sent indirect lobs one another’s way after the match.

Vigneault, lobbying for supplement­al discipline against Beleskey for sending Stepan into the wall on what appeared a late, reckless, albeit unpenalize­d hit, flashed back to Game 3 of the 2011 Cup final when he was behind the Vancouver bench.

That was when Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome was suspended for the final four games of the series against the Bruins for his late hit up high that concussed Nathan Horton and knocked the winger out of the final.

“In our opinion, it was a late hit,” Vigneault said of the Beleskey check, which sure seemed a textbook boarding infraction. “More than a second and [Stepan] was a couple of feet from the boards. So we’ll have to wait and see [about a suspension].”

Meanwhile, Boston’s Julien all but flatly accused Henrik Lundqvist of diving on a goaltender interferen­ce call against Brad Marchand at 7:59 of the third.

“In preseason, Lundqvist did the same thing,” Julien said, referring to an exhibition game between the clubs. “I know he does some acting on the side, but I don’t think it needs to be on the ice.”

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