Montreal Canadiens Spotlight: Brandon Prust
Photo by Christopher Pasatieri / Getty Images
By James Stephan (@J_Habs)
The lights are dim, a fresh new sheet of ice has been set, and the arena is eerily quiet. The metallic sound of the gate echoes throughout the building as a player steps onto the ice. His skates create the euphoric sound of slicing through the ice; stride upon stride, the player warms his muscles. Circling the net he decides to unleash a burst of speed, beads of sweat already streaming down his face as he swiftly skates from one end of the ice to another, and just as he comes to a halt creating a blanket of mist, the lights come on, and Brandon Prust is revealed in his new home jersey.
Prust has shown that he can be that player every coach loves to have in the playoffs. His character has brought smiles and laughter to his teammates wherever he’s been, displaying that even through his rough and tumble style of play, he is team-oriented.
He represents the prototypical “grinder” that can wear down an opponent, from delivering hard, gut-wrenching checks, to dropping the gloves in an attempt to stand up for his teammates. One underrated aspect of Prust’s game is on the penalty kill. He accumulated 136:51 minutes of time on the ice when shorthanded last season, and that number is not likely to diminish during his stay in Montreal.
Prust’s penalty kill experience will be a welcome addition to Montreal’s penalty killing fleet; Tomas Plekanec, who was second in the league with 260:58 shorthanded minutes, and Travis Moen. Plekanec has been shouldering the burden of being both Montreal’s first line center, and elite penalty kill specialist. The combined tasks can be extremely taxing, and some fans have argued that it is the main reason why Plekanec struggles to crack the 70 point milestone on a regular basis.
With Montreal’s new addition, there brings hope that Montreal can become a more offensive squad. The accepted notion is that Prust will help alleviate some of the pressure on penalty kill, and Tomas Plekanec will finally be able to shift his focus to offense, where in the season of 2009-2010 he displayed his strongest presence on the score sheet, tallying 25 goals and 70 points.
In recent years, the Canadiens have been “bullied” around to the point where the game was a mismatch in size and intensity. Intimidation and frustration eventually took residence with the team and they were in serious need of muscle to fight back. Prust will give Montreal the added punch they’ve longed for. Travis Moen and Ryan White are likely thankful knowing that they are no longer the lone grinders on the team.
With Moen, White, and Prust side-by-side, opportunities will open for the smaller forwards, allowing everyone to be more effective at their position. The team will likely see an improvement in goal scoring, and perhaps a more successful special teams unit.
All this said, Habs fans should not expect Prust to be a savior for the team, as he won’t be giving Steven Stamkos any competition in the goal scoring department. But Prust’s presence will be more noticeable as the season progresses, and as the team develops as a strong cohesive unit. With a bit of time, Prust’s value to the Canadiens will match his ten million dollar contract.
You can give Brandon a follow @BrandonPrust8.