MATT: There were a few players that stood out to me, and I at first was going to go with John Moore, who I think has really excelled in Marc Staal’s absence, but I have to go with Derick Brassard. He’s played so well lately, and it continued Monday night. I was skeptical at first when Alain Vigneault put him on a line with Mats Zucccarello and Brad Richards, a line I felt lacked a goal scorer, but Vigneault showed me why I’m not coaching an NHL team. That line has played really well and Brassard is a big reason for it. The thing I like most is that Brassard has been a complete player, doing a bit of everything in all three zones. Monday night, No. 16 finished with five shots — seven total attempts — and whopping six hits. His physical game is what has impressed me the most recently, as he’s becoming a player who looks for players to hit. Vigneault spoke recently about needing a toughness that doesn’t revolve around fighting, and Brassard heard him loud and clear and has responded in a big way.
JIM: Agreed on Brassard. His last several games have been very good, and last night was one of his best. Engaged from the start, extremely physical, and creative throughout generating offensive chances. However I am going with Dan Girardi here. I know he is a top-pair defenseman, but he does get overlooked quite a bit because he pairs with Ryan McDonagh, who has been the team's best player most of the season. I thought Girardi was rock solid last night, logging more than 26 minutes of ice time, and was right there with McDonagh in his own end of the ice, and playing particularly well on the penalty kill.