SUN Hockey Pool

Prust proving his will

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

Beside his bowl of soup and rice sit two buns.

Elastics still keep his fractured jaw from opening too wide, but the rolls must be a sign things are getting better for Brandon Prust.

The Calgary Flames rookie took a high hit from St. Louis Blues forward Cam Janssen when the two teams first met in early December and had to have a plate inserted to help him heal.

While the buns appear to be a good omen, he's still a month or so away from getting back into a game.

"I've got to heat them up so they get a little softer," said Prust. "I'm starting to eat a little more now, but still fairly soft foods."

Right now, the biggest problem he faces is coming up with a menu that doesn't bore him.

Expecting to start practising in a couple of weeks, Prust figures it will take a couple more to be able to suit up for a game.

That's when he'll face an even bigger decision.

What will he do when confronted with a situation that caused him no hesitation in the past -- defending a teammate.

A bar or shield will be mounted to his helmet to protect him during play, but being quick to drop the lid and gloves is what made the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder such a valuable commodity over the first month-and-a-half of the season.

He knows he's not supposed to scrap when he returns.

But he hasn't ruled it out.

"That's what they say, you can't," said Prust, grinning.

"I've done stupider things.

"We'll see. I can always rip my bucket off."

There is another alternative.

Prust is stuck eating soft foods, but he's got a pair of pretty soft hands, too.

Flames fans have seen the tougher side of the 24-year-old over his first 21 games this season.

He was leading the league in penalty minutes when he was sidelined, and had a goal and an assist to his credit.

They saw his offensive talents at Sunday's skills competition.

One of the morning's highlights was Prust's move in the breakaway relay.

Racing in on goaltender Curtis McElhinney, he scooped the puck onto his stick, spun around and fired it on goal.

McElhinney took it in the body, but the effort amazed the crowd. It was something you'd expect to see from a guy like Alex Ovechkin or Ryan Getzlaf in the all-star skills competition.

Forced to skate and stickhandle without his teammates the last couple of weeks, Prust has obviously been taking advantage of his ice time.

He says he's been fooling around with that move for a couple of years. It started in junior with the London Knights when he started picking the puck up on the move.

"You just eventually start trying new things. I think I saw someone do that move, like on TV or something, and I was like, 'I want to try that,' " said Prust.

"It doesn't take long. I can pick up the puck. Maybe a couple practices to get it down.

"I don't really do it too much anymore, but the last couple of weeks I've been messing around with the puck by myself."

Unsure how much he'd be involved in the skills event, he asked the injured Todd Bertuzzi whether or not he should go for it.

Bert was behind it.

"I was watching guys do some moves and I was like, 'Ah, maybe I'll try my move,'" said Prust.

The decision not to fight should be just as easy when he comes back.

Just don't bet on it.


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