Saturday Practice Report: Brassard Happy To Be Back

Derick Brassard is among the most affable and good-natured players on the New York Rangers. Pardon him, however, if he didn't quite enjoy being the butt---pun intended---of some fun ribbing he has taken from his teammates for being sidelined due to a sore backside the past several days.

Brassard returned to practice on Saturday at the MSG Training Center after suffering a bruised tailbone which caused pain in his backside when he fell awkwardly to the ice during Tuesday's 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators at Madison Square Garden. After resting one day Brassard tried to take part in Thursday's morning skate prior to the Rangers game that night against his former team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he was too stiff and in far too much pain to be able to skate properly.

Following another day off the ice Friday, Brassard was able to take part in the entire practice on Saturday and is expected to be in Sunday's lineup against the Calgary Flames.

"You know it sounds a little funny when you say I have a bum injury, but I want to go back in tomorrow and help the team get two points," Brassard told reporters following Saturday's practice. "When you skate you push with your butt, and I had an injury there, the first time it had happened to me, and it's not fun. It was really frustrating because when you say you're out with a bum injury it sounds like you can play through it, but I couldn't even skate."

Brassard's return will be welcomed by a Rangers team already playing without injured team captain Ryan Callahan up front and injured defenseman Marc Staal on the back end. He will try and help the Rangers snap their four-game slide that has seen them produce a 0-3-1 record to start this current nine-game homestand.

Head coach Alain Vigneault confirmed that Brassard will play against the Flames, but said he was 100 percent sure how the rest of his lineup will shake out. The coach's main decisions seem to be whether or not to dress rookie Dylan McIlrath or Justin Falk on defense and which forward among Taylor Pyatt, Arron Asham, and Benoit Pouliot will be Sunday's healthy scratch.

Vigneault did say that Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal against Calgary.

"Hank's our best player," stated Vigneault Saturday. "He's been the best player for the New York Rangers for quite some time now. For us to win games and have success we need our best player to be on top of his game. He's the guy, so he's playing."

Brassard's return to practice meant another shuffling of the lines Saturday. Here's how they---and the defense pairings---looked at practice:







Del Zotto-Girardi