Prust fights Rinaldo, Simmonds in wild Winter Classic preview


If last night was any indication, there’ll be plenty of fireworks at the 2012 Bridgestone Winter Classic.

And Brandon Prust will be the one lighting the wick.

Prust wasted no time getting his Philly hate on Saturday night, dropping the mitts with Flyers center Zac Rinaldo a whopping four seconds into the Rangers’ 2-0 win:

After serving a five minute fighting major, Prust spent the next four minutes figuring out a further plan of attack. That plan (apparently) was to go after Wayne Simnmonds, who engaged in a jousting match with Sean Avery off the opening draw:

Those were Prust’s sixth and seventh fights of the season, moving him to third on the list of most active pugilists. (Zenon Konopka sits atop with nine, Jared Boll’s in second with eight.) All told, Prust racked up 17 penalty minutes in the first period — not bad for 1:27 of ice time.

“He does it for us all the time,” Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said following the game. “He’s not the biggest guy. Pound for pound, he has to be one of the toughest guys in the league.”

With Saturday’s game the first of two meetings prior to the Winter Classic (the Rangers will host the Flyers again on Dec. 23), both teams came in snarling. HBO aired a preview of 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic on Friday in which both teams expressed disdain for each other — disdain that quickly spilled onto the ice.

“We should probably start this with a tilt, eh?” Prust asked Rinaldo (as told to ESPN’s Katie Strang.) “We wanted to get the rivalry started and we both agreed it was a good idea.

“We just had a little chat. We made eye contact when we got out and it wasn’t too hard.”

If you’re planning to get up in arms about orchestrated violence and coaches sending players out with instructions to fight, consider what John Tortorella told the New York Daily News.

“It’s not up to me, it’s up to him. When I see their starting lineup, I put my starting lineup out,” Torts said. “Home team gets the last change, and it’s up to Pruster. He usually makes the right decisions there.

“He certainly did today.”

In conclusion, the Winter Classic is gonna be awesome.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?