The Rangers’ playoff success may very well depend on excellence from the teams’ role players. After the Richards line, the most important line may very well be the Rangers third line. The Boyle line is counted on to get the puck in deep and work the cycle, to be physical, and to play smart, two-way hockey for every second their skates are on the ice. The same style of play is expected from the Rangers’ fourth line. Brandon Dubinsky has been getting a lot of time on Boyle’s line at the expense of Prust who has been playing on the fourth line with Mitchell and Rupp. Even though Prust is getting fourth line ice time, he is still used on the penalty kill where he is third among Rangers forwards in SH TOI/G. Though Prust doesn’t score often, he makes sure to bury important ones when he is given the chance, here is a shorthanded beauty that Prust made no mistake with when he put it into the net after a great feed by Dubinsky. Join me for the video and more after the jump...
It is hard to express just how valuable Brandon Prust is to the Rangers without letting bias creep in and overselling his importance to the team. To me, Prust is a guy every team should covet to have on their third line (or perhaps fourth line). Prust, in a word, is fearless. When Brandon Prust is at his best he is a relentless forechecker, a reliable penalty killer, and a guy that injects energy and physicality into the lineup. An effective Brandon Prust is a guy that is a terror on the ice, he’s hitting people, grinding it out in the corners, sticking up for his teammates, and hustling after every loose puck.
The biggest critique I can make about Prust’s game is his decision-making when it comes to dropping the gloves. I think we can all agree that Prust fought too much last year for his own good, he kept getting banged up and was doing the team no favors by sitting in the penalty box for five minute stretches. This year Prust has surpassed the amount of fighting majors he had last year, even with the additions of Mike Rupp and Stu Bickel in the lineup. Pruster still finds himself getting in what I would call needless or "stupid" fights, something the Rangers find themselves involved in far too often. Prust’s production is down from last year, but I don’t think we expected him to build on his offensive output given the type of player he is, the line he plays on, and the minutes he gets. What I would like to see more of from Prust is shots. Prust shoots less than almost every Ranger forward. I for one would love to see him throw it on net more often, though let’s be honest, that can be said about every Ranger player.
Brandon Prust became a New York Ranger in February of 2010 when he was sent to New York along with Olli Jokinen in exchange for Chris Higgins and Ales Kotalik. He has quickly emerged as a fan favorite because of his fearless play and his gigantic heart. If Callahan is the heart of the team and Lundqvist is its spine, Prust would be its guts. His style of game isn’t pretty, it isn’t highlight-reel worthy, it is gritty, tough, honest hockey. Prust, as many of us already know, goes by the nickname "Pope Prust" on Blueshirt Banter, a moniker given to him by Jim Schmiedeberg. Those of us who adore Prust and recognize him as being sent by a supreme being call ourselves Prustbyterians. May Prust be with you, and remember, no matter what life throws at you, "It is just pain."
Prust plays his best when he is on the Boyle line, a line that he played with all of last season and for the better part of this season. If the Rangers should suffer an injury in their top six forwards during the playoffs, it is all but a certainty that Dubinsky would plug in to the top six and that Prust would return to the Boyle line. Though it would be devastating to suffer an injury in our top six forwards, it is good to know that we have reliable depth and players who can plug in and play important ice time if they are called upon.
Prust leads the Rangers in PIM, is tied with the lead in SHG with two, and as of April 3rd Prust leads the Rangers and the league in fighting majors with twenty. According to Wikipedia, "Prust has an uncle who was a Broadway actor, and he also enjoys going to Broadway shows in his spare time. His other interests include golf and baseball." Prust’s balls are so big that he has great difficulty finding pants that fit him properly, which leads many of us to ask, "How does Brandon Prust sit down with balls that big?!" You can follow Prust on twitter at @brandonprust8.