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.