Brandon Prust: A Leader Without a Letter

Since the beginning of the infamous west coast road trip to California earlier this month, the Canadiens’ record is 5-4-3, which is hardly a good record for the top team in the league. Yet, they are winning the Presidents’ trophy race. It’s amazing what one single man with pads on his legs can do for a team. Logically speaking, the Habs make no licks of sense whatsoever. Absolutely destroying advanced statistics with each passing victory, while all the more point to the fact that Michel Therrien’s system is working to perfection. I mean relying on your goaltender is one thing, but literally telling your team to take the 1st periods off, to sit on leads and seemingly kill your own powerplay is quite another. Therrien is such a great coach! His team is playing da right way.

Kudos to Carey and the 4 guys who wear letters on their sweaters for not flipping out and handling the pressure that Montreal media brings but I for one am shocked that they have yet to call a “players only” meeting to discuss their play in March; it’s been lacking to say the least. What’s interesting is that even though the 4 guys with letters are clearly the Habs’ top players most nights, their hero; albeit unsung, doesn’t wear a letter. With a mere 4 points in his last 14 games and without a goal in his past 25 games, I’m firmly going to inform you that Brandon Prust has been the Canadiens’ strongest leader for at least all of March.

How do I go about proving this to a fanbase that is about as diverse as Noah’s Ark considering Prust has mediocre to average fancy stats at best? In a phrase, watch him play is hardly an informative or educating while simply suggesting the play-by-play analyst says his name a lot during the broadcast actually is an illegitimate argument to support him to be an effective player. There’s no debate about how stupid it is to play Dale Weise on the top line, but the hate is on the utilization and not the player. It’s the same for Prust although he’s used properly in the lineup. The thing with Prust is that considering who he plays with and his zone starts, Brandon’s skill set is a 4th liner. However, when you add in his heart and soul, he can also be an effective 3rd liner with some penalty killing duties.

Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Let’s go back to the game against Tampa Bay last week, which was another pathetic effort on the record for Montreal vs the Lightning. Tampa roared out to another commanding 3-0 lead over the Habs and showed no signs of stopping up until Prust turned the tables. Comically speaking, Habs haters all over social media called this hit “gutless” and “dirty”, but God clearly didn’t create every human with 20/20 vision. Some even went as far as comparing this act to Lucic’s hit on Miller in 2011. Ben Bishop is basically 6’10” on skates but I’m not sure Brad Marchand could flop as good as the Lightning netminder. Prust clearly initiated contact and had one thing in mind as he wrapped his arms around Bishop upon slamming him into the boards. There was no supplemental discipline or injury on the play to no one’s surprise. Prust simply watched his team fall asleep at the wheel and went out to change momentum. A scrum clearly ensued and some hairy eyeballs were exchanged but no line was crossed, and no code was broken. Did you see any Lightning player return the favor and run Price later on? No. Prust played his role to literal perfection. A role player who knows his role and actually plays it out is a rare breed. Most teams possess a role player that either doesn’t know his role or just plays as if he is one. The only effective role player is one who has both, Prust does. Montreal didn’t end up winning that game against Tampa but the momentum definitely swung in their favor. Not long after, Gallagher jumped on board and dropped the mitts and only a shift or two later, Plekanec put up the first of two Habs’ goals on the night. Prust wound up fighting and beating his dance partner Angelidis for the second time in that game, likely a response to the hit on Bishop or simply because he lost the first round to Prusty. One single hit on a goalie changed the entire game, shot totals, goals, hits, time in offensive zone, momentum and everything changed in favor of the Habs because of Prusty playing his role.

This isn’t the first time Brandon has done something out of the ordinary to change momentum for his team; and the hit on Bishop was not the first time those two shared the spotlight. Remember when the Canadiens were down 2-0 in the Conference Finals to the Rangers? Because I remember the 3rd game when Prust broke Stepan’s jaw with a late hit that he sincerely apologized for in The Players’ Tribune. It was up until that hit on Stepan that the Habs found some sort of life and belief in Tokarski. It was a response, it was heart, it was effort, IT WAS SOMETHING. Without Prust, what spark do the Canadiens’ have to their disposal? Weise only seems to play this way against the Bruins and Gallagher is more useful with the puck than he is chirping or fighting. Prust is the only Prust Montreal has and thank the Lord Jesus Christ he’s healthy.

This past Saturday in Montreal with the score 1-0 over the Sharks with 6 minutes left in the 3rd period with San Jose pressing to tie it on the powerplay, Prust blocks a point shot, skates the puck down the ice, gets a shot on Niemi and then takes the rebound to corner and fends off 3 Sharks from the puck for 0ver 15 legitimate seconds on the clock. That was the shift of the year in my opinion. I would take a whole team of Brandon’s if there was that many of him.

The beard is ready, the heart is on his sleeve, and Prust is all in, are you?

GO HABS GO

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2 Responses to Brandon Prust: A Leader Without a Letter

  1. Success and leadership are all about hard work and how much heart you put in the game. Stats and talent never make as much impact in the long run.

    Montana Dunn March 26, 2015 at 3:07 pm Reply
  2. You nailed it on “da system”. Therrien forces a team that should be a fast skating, possession-based club, into a bunch of chip-and-chase, grinders. He tried to do the same in Pitt when he had players like Malkin and Crosby at their peaks! It was a disaster for Pitt and it will be a disaster for the Habs especially when they do meet a club (in the playoffs) like Tampa which has excellent possession numbers. A system that is 20 years out of date and that has already been shown to be a failure should be reason alone to say au-revoir to the present coach of the Habs. Win? They do, on the back of Price but they could do such more if they would just drop “da system”.

    Jeff March 30, 2015 at 5:56 am Reply

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