Rangers-Derick Brassard: Really your Ranger Player to Watch could be any and all of the three acquired by the Blueshirts at the trade deadline last April as all three obviously are facing the Blue Jackets for the first time since being dealt away by Columbus, but Brassard is the main one to keep an eye on because he was the first round pick, the star in waiting, who never quite measured up to some lofty expectations, and he would like to make a statement in his return to Nationwide Arena, for sure. Brassard has said several times that the trade to New York was the absolute best thing for his career, which he backed up by going 5-6-11 in 13 games down the stretch with New York last season, followed by a team-high 12 points in 12 post-season games. However, he has struggled to find consistency in his game so far this season, though he did score in Wednesday's 5-1 win over the Penguins. The highly-skilled center now has three goals and seven points through 15 games, and is hoping to find his stride soon. His best statistical season was 2010-11 when he scored a career-high 17 goals and totaled a career-best 47 points with the Blue Jackets; and the Rangers are expecting more than that this season from their 26 year-old pivot.
Blue Jackets-Marian Gaborik: Columbus' best player and leading scorer with five goals and ten points so far in 2013-14, Gaborik is also an extremely proud athlete, and one has to figure the fire is burning inside him as he gets set to face the Rangers for the first time since last April's trade out of New York. In his four years with the Rangers Gaborik produced two star-worthy campaigns and a pair of subpar seasons. Twice he scored 40+ goals for the Blueshirts, and overall he is a three-time 40-goal scorer in the NHL. He also established a career-high with 86 points in 2009-10. At the time of the trade last April, Gaborik had nine goals and 19 points through 35 games. A threat any time he is on the ice, Gaborik will be looking to light the lamp at Nationwide Arena Thursday, especially if Henrik Lundqvist starts between the pipes for the Rangers because Gaborik is quick to recall his five-goal outing against Lundqvist while a member of the Minnesota Wild.