ShareThis Page
Penguins

Rangers' Brassard continues to deliver against Penguins

| Thursday, April 16, 2015, 10:42 p.m.

NEW YORK — Richard M. Nixon is not the only person with an enemies list.

Take, for example, the Penguins, for whom the mere mention of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara or P.K. Subban would be enough to elicit scowls.

A few more playoff performances like he has delivered recently, and Derick Brassard might find himself among those the Penguins despise.

Even if he doesn't have “an idea” why he's successful against the Penguins.

“I have no answer,” Brassard said when asked after the New York Rangers' 2-1 win Thursday night in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round playoff series at Madison Square Garden.

“I just enjoy playing against the Penguins.”

Since being acquired from Columbus with John Moore and Derek Dorsett in 2013 in a blockbuster deal that sent Marian Gaborik to the Blue Jackets, Brassard has recorded 25 points in 36 playoff games spanning three postseasons.

Against the Penguins, Brassard has six points in eight playoff games. In last May's second-round series, Brassard led the Rangers with four goals and five points in New York's seven-game, come-from-behind series win.

It was more of the same Thursday night.

Brassard played a significant role in the win, scoring the series-opening goal 28 seconds into the first period.

The goal was the culmination of a sequence that underscored why many view the Rangers as Stanley Cup favorites.

New York used its speed and skill to attack the Penguins up the ice, leading to Rick Nash's off-wing drive that goalie Marc-Andre Fleury kicked to the middle of the ice.

Rebounds to the slot are not ideal at the best of times. In this instance, it allowed the Presidents' Trophy winners to draw first blood.

Driving to the net, Brassard beat Paul Martin to the loose puck before driving a one-timer into the net.

Nash, Brassard said, “did it on purpose. He tried to shoot for a rebound. I was wide open and got a lucky bounce.”

About 14 minutes and change later, Brassard contributed to New York's second goal in a more intangible fashion.

With the Rangers on their third of four first-period power plays, Brassard's screen obstructed Fleury's view of Ryan McDonagh's slap shot until the puck settled into the net to give New York a 2-0 lead.

When the final horn sounded, Brassard had completed a night in which he scored a goal, took five shots, threw three hits in 15:45 of ice time that spanned 27 shifts. He also won 12 of the 25 faceoffs he took.

“They bring out the best in us,” said Brassard, whose five points against the Penguins in the regular season were second most on the Rangers.

He finished the regular season with career highs in goals (19), assists (41) and points (60) while centering a line with Nash and Mats Zuccarello.

Denis Gorman is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me