Center Derick Brassard easily had his best game since the Olympic Break. His three-point night (2G, 1A) is more than he’s had in his 10 previous games combined. For the New York Rangers, the hope is that this scoring outburst can spark the center because he has been a key for the Blueshirts this season.
Brassard is sixth on the team with 13 goals and is fifth in points with 36. More importantly, he has anchored arguably the Rangers’ best line with Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot. Expected to be the team’s third line, the unit has produced at a top-line rate while more celebrated players have struggled.
Both Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis have been disappointing for the Rangers. In January, Nash scored 11 goals in 11 games; in the other 59 games, he has managed that same 11 goal total. St. Louis was brought in as part of a big trade deadline deal that shipped former captain Ryan Callahan to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The move was supposed to improve the Rangers offensively, but he has only added three assists since arriving.
Now, head coach Alain Vigneault has shifted St. Louis onto a line with Brassard and Zuccarello to jump-start the winger. The shift seemed to help St. Louis as the ice certainly opened up more. The three skaters are all fast and are arguably the most skilled on the team. Tonight, that was good enough for a combined six points.
Brassard has proven to be one of the Rangers’ top forwards. Now he has been tasked with doing what Brad Richards couldn’t: get St. Louis going. On his first night, the move seemed to work.