[Ed. note: As part of the build-up to the second round playoff series between the Capitals and the Rangers, Japers' Rink will be looking at some of the important but perhaps lesser-known players on the Rangers and how they might impact the series.]
#8 / Right Wing / New York Rangers
March 16, 1984
Birthplace: London, Ontario, Canada
Drafted: 2004 by Calgary Flames (3rd Round, 70th overall)
|Assets||Works hard and loves to get in the face of his opponents. Has solid defensive instincts, is an aggressive forechecker and excellent penalty killer. An outstanding team guy that leads by example, he'll rumble with anyone.
|Flaws||Won't score a lot of points at the National Hockey League level, since he lacks above-average speed and overall natural skill. Takes on all comers, so he tends to play hurt a lot.
|Career Potential||Physical agitating defensive winger. (Assets, Flaws and Career Potential via SB Nation player page)|
Why you should know who he is - Though a middleweight, he finished third on the team in hits during the first round series vs. Ottawa, doubling his hits-per-game average from the regular season. You'll see him logging significant PK time; he averaged close to two minutes a game shorthanded in the Ottawa series, an important role in an overall kill effort that limited the Sens to 15.4% efficiency, four goals on 26 attempts (he was on ice for two of them). Not particularly known as a shutdown forward, he did face quite a few tough defensive assignments, including heavy doses of Jason Spezza's line in Games 3 and 6 of the Ottawa series, both Ranger victories.
How the Caps can stop him - Some credit Prust with turning the series back into the Blueshirts' favor by gamely engaging Ottawa heavyweight Chris Neil (the non-suspended villain of Broadway who concussed Rangers forward Brian Boyle in the previous game) in the first period of Game 6, with NYR down 1-0 in the contest and 3-2 in the series. It took some prodding to get Neil to oblige, but Prust was persistent and perhaps reset the game for his team. Obviously, the Caps' more rugged forwards need to take the high road and maintain their composure, much like they did in the first round against Boston.