We've talked a lot about the three players the New York Rangers brought back in the Marian Gaborik trade at the deadline. And for good reason, two of the three (Derick Brassard and John Moore) have made immediate impacts on levels I'm not sure many people expected when the two caught a late flight and showed up to their first game as Rangers 30 minutes before warm ups. The Rangers smoked the Penguins 6-1 that night. Brassard had a goal and three assists. Moore had a goal.
Derek Dorsett - who is slowly working his way back from an injury - has shown some flashes of what he can do as well since he's returned to the lineup, and his grit and toughness have been welcomed in this series against the Washington Capitals.
And while Moore has made some remarkably impressive strides it's Brassard that's getting a lot of the attention after the Rangers past two wins. And for good reason. Brassard had a goal and two assists in the Rangers' 4-3 victory over the Capitals in Game 3. In Game 4 he recorded two breathtaking assists, including one on Dan Girardi's power play goal to give the Rangers a much-needed boost after the Capitals scored two goals in less than six minutes to tie the game at two with just 17 seconds left in the second period.
Brassard has recorded 17 points in 16 games in all contests with the Rangers so far this year (this includes the regular season). The breakdown is 11 points in 12 regular season games (five goals and six assists) and five points through four playoff games (a goal and four assists). And with his immense performance in Games 3 and 4 - must-win games for the Rangers, mind you - he showed off why Glen Sather wanted him so much when he pulled the trigger on moving Gaborik.
Brassard has the ability to be a game changer. And he's been just that for the Rangers since the moment he got here.
Yes, he got off to a slow start the first two games. That's to be expected. They were the first playoff games of his career, playing on a relatively new team in a completely different system. He admitted he was nervous, gripping the stick a little too tight and trying to do too much. But Brassard - like most everyone else on the team not named Henrik Lundqvist since he's always good - loosened up a little when the Rangers came back to Broadway. And since then he's done everything and more that the Rangers have asked of him.
Brassard brings a level of vision few players possess. Brad Richards is another player who can see things other players don't on the ice, but he's had trouble finding his game this year and that's been a big part of the Rangers' struggles. Brassard helps mask that. The pass he made to Carl Hagelin for the Rangers' second goal in Game 4 was jaw-dropping. A cross-ice feed that eluded two different Capitals' defenseman and hit Hagelin's stick right on the tape and with enough pace to allow him to step into his second goal of the season.
It hasn't just been at even strength either. Brassard is one of only two Rangers with a power play goal during the playoffs. Girardi is the other. Brassard and Mats Zuccarello are tied for the team lead with two power play points through these first four playoff games, too. It should also be noted that Brassard had four power play points (two goals and two assists) in 13 games with the Rangers since the trade. That's a pace to have more power play points than anyone else on the team.
If you've forgotten the power play has been a major issue for the Rangers this entire season. It cost them two games in Washington when this series started. And while things aren't much better with the power play -- the Rangers are only 2-for-17 with the man advantage (not a typo) - the power play has gotten better and better with each game. Brassard has been a big part of that.
The Rangers, actually, as a whole have gotten better and better with each game.
Brassard has been a big part of that, too.