As has been said countless times on this site; when Ruslan Fedotenko – Brian Boyle – Brandon Prust is your fourth line, then you have the makings of a contender. Well, at least in Brandon Prust’s case, he is on his way if not already arrived at the fourth line. With such little ice time last night against the Isles (less than 6 minutes) and an ever-dwindling role on the team Prust is nowhere near as relevant as he was last year. However, that is a good thing and if anything just a sign that this team is developing and is deeper than it was the year previous.
Prust fans should not worry however. With less ice time comes less focus, but that doesn’t mean Prust isn’t a valuable player for the Rangers. He’s a heck of a gritty player and will go to war for his team and teammates and he’ll likely be a major factor again this season. But he needs to get healthy and Rangers fans need to realise it cannot be a good thing when the Prust’s of this world are getting 15 minutes a game like he was last year. The Rangers lacked the ability to hold on to the puck last year and part of the reason was the lack of skill on the ice.
Sean Avery has re-emerged, and based purely on the past two games (albeit against inferior opponents) Avery has a legitimate role on this team. Avery is still unique when he plays like he can. He has a healthy dose of skill, is an intelligent hockey player (at times), and is a pest who can bring a physical, relentless style to the game. If the Rangers can have both Avery and Prust firing on all cylinders this season, then my-o-my this team can go places.
Avery, Prust, Fedotenko, Ryan Callahan and even Brandon Dubinsky give this team a boat load of grittiness and effort. Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan, and Artem Anisimov bring the skill and finesse to the table. Combine the two and you have the makings of a perfect blend amongst the forward group.
In an ideal world, Prust (and his line) will get between 8-11 minutes per game and be a physical factor. They’ll harass the opposition and create space for the skilled lines to do their thing. Prust will chip in the odd goal, assist, fight and everything he does but it can only bode well when the top six are playing the important minutes because they are – and will be – the difference makers for this club.