For the last two years, Rangers fans have lamented the team’s lack of toughness. We’re always trying to compare them to the 2011-12 team who would punch their opponent in the face and dare them to punch back. That was a Rangers team who never lacked players willing to stand-up for a teammate. Now? Why don’t you ask Rick Nash that question.
Inevitably, during those protests, the one player always recalled is Brandon Prust. He epitomized the “Black & Blueshirt” mentality which made that team so special to Rangers fans.
Unfortunately, when Prust became an unrestricted free agent after that magical 2012 playoff run, the Montreal Canadiens blew the Rangers out of the water with a four year, $10 million offer.
That was a deal Prust would have been out of his mind to turn down and Glen Sather equally insane matching. So what was such a perfect match in New York ended in divorce.
And to no Rangers fans surprise, Prust became an immediate fan favorite for doing things such as taking on Montreal’s public enemy #1 Mr. Lucic…
His first year in Montreal justified the ridiculous contract as Prust finished with 5g, 9a was a +11 and had 87 hits in 39 games during the lockout shortened season.
However, this season has proven Sather to be the wiser for not coming over the top of the Canadiens to re-sign Prust, as the rugged forward was only able to suit up in 52 games this year as he dealt with lingering shoulder issues.
Prust has bounced back with a positive impact in the playoffs as he’s had 25 hits in the Canadiens 11 games, and had an assist on Montreal’s opening goal against the Bruins in Game 7 on Wednesday night.
While it’s no surprise to Rangers fans that Prust’s gritty style has had an influence on the Canadiens postseason success. Another former Ranger has come out of no where to make a name for himself.
During his time with the Blueshirts organization, Rangers fans always hoped Dale Weise would amount to a solid fourth liner, who could provide an edge. And he seemed to be on his way when he fought current Blueshirt Dan Carcillo in his first NHL game…
Unfortunately, Weise was never able to secure a spot in the Rangers line-up and was eventually waived in 2011. While his time in New York was brief, we’ll always have this…
After reuniting with John Tortorella in Vancouver for a brief cup of coffee, Weise was traded to the Canadiens back in February, ironically for Raphael Diaz, and had a nice impact tallying 3g, 1a in 17 regular season games.
After a fairly uneventful performance in the first round of the playoffs, Weise became something he’s never been during his career in the second round against the Bruins…an impact player.
Weise not only scored two goals, including the opening goal in Game 7, he took on Lucic head to head and seemed to rattle the impenetrable force…
…are we seriously going to have to hate Prust this series?
…i’m not surprised with Prust’s play as it’s a given. He can change the momentum of a game and ultimately a series with a big hit or hard working effort. But I’m completely floored with what I witnessed out of Weise. I knew he had the ability to become one of those fan favorite fourth line players, but never in my wildest imagination did I anticipate this.
…the Rangers fourth line is one of the biggest reasons for their success this season, but Boyle-D. Moore-Dorsett are going to have their hands full when matched-up with their Canadiens counterparts of Prust, Wiess and Danny Briere. My hope is that Boyle will pass along any inside information on Prust to either Carcillo or Dorsett to use to get him off his game. If Prust is able to help neutralize the Rangers fourth line’s impact, it could prove detrimental to the Blueshirts’ chances of winning this series.