Despite what many would consider an average regular season, Petr Prucha certainly stepped up his level of play when his club needed it most, as he helped guide HC Moeller Pardubice to the 2004-05 Czech Republic Extra League championship earlier this week. Pardubice's title win came in decisive fashion - a four-game sweep of top seeded HC Hame Zlin.
Pardubice ended the regular season at 31-19-2 (97 points) and grabbed the third seed entering the playoffs. In the first round, they survived a scare as HC Rabat Kladno pushed the series to seven games. In the seventh game, Prucha contributed an assist as Pardubice prevailed to face Bílí Tygri Liberec in the Semifinals.
Pardubice didn't waste much time dashing Liberec's title hopes as they grabbed the best-of-seven series in five games. Prucha again lit up the scoreboard with a pair of three-point nights (two goals, one assist) in Games 4 and 5.
The Finals proved to be the defining point for Pardubice as their impressive post-season run could not be stopped. Behind Prucha's five points (two goals, three assists), Pardubice rolled to a convincing four-game sweep of top-seeded HC Hame Zlin.
Prucha was exceptional during his club's championship run, recording a five-game point streak from March 27 to April 9, totaling eight points (four goals, four assists) over the span. The shifty forward also tied a career-high in playoff goals with six and established career bests with seven assists and 13 points. His 13 points ranked second on the team to Edmonton Oilers forward Ales Hemsky, who totaled 14. Prucha notched a point in nine of 16 post-season games.
With the influx of NHL regulars to the Extra League this season, Prucha found himself often relegated to third and fourth line duty after becoming a main cog on offense one year prior with 24 points in 48 games. During the 2004-05 season, Petr appeared in 47 games, notching 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) and 24 penalty minutes.
Prucha's 'second season' in 2004-05, however, will certainly be something for him to build upon for the future, according to Rangers Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Player Personnel Don Maloney.
"(Rangers European scout) Jan Gajdosik pointed out that with all the NHLers over there playing this season, Petr was really pushed to down a little earlier on," noted Maloney. "Unfortunately in Europe that's what happens if you are not on those top two lines and you really see very limited special teams time."
"The second half of the year he got more ice time and he responded. That's one thing ... when you get the opportunity, at any level, you have to take advantage of it. Petr did that and it carried right into the playoffs. We are thrilled with his performance because he has really rebounded in pressure spots and performed well."