Derick Brassard played a huge role in the Rangers' rebounding from a 3-1 series deficit and advancing past the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round Two of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoring four goals, including a pair of game-winners in the seven-game series victory.
Considering his importance to the team, it's been a testament to the Rangers depth and strong all-around play that they have grabbed a 2-0 series lead over the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Final with Brassard unable to play in Game Two on Monday after being limited to two shifts totaling 35 seconds in the opener due to an unspecified injury.
"The guys played really well, they battled and we found a way to win," said Brassard after taking part in the team's practice at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. "I was pretty frustrated when it happened. When you're playing in a Conference Final like that, against Montreal, playing at (my) home like that, I was pretty mad about it, but injuries are a part of the game."
Brassard seemed to have suffered the unknown injury on an open-ice hit from Montreal defenseman Mike Weaver early in the first period on Saturday. Once he went to the dressing room with trainer Jim Ramsay, Brassard did not return; and then he did not suit up on Monday for Game Two.
The popular center--who has seven points in 15 post-season games this spring--missed only one regular-season game in 2013-14, back on December 12th against Columbus. However after sitting out Game Two against Montreal, he was back on the ice Wednesday and was pleased with how he felt afterwards.
"I feel better," stated Brassard. "I went through the whole practice today so that's a pretty good sign. I have come a long way from a couple of days ago so we'll see tomorrow."
The Rangers will host the Canadiens in Game Three of the conference final Thursday at The Garden, and Brassard is hopeful that he will be on the ice trying to help his teammates put a stranglehold on this series with a third consecutive victory over Montreal.
"The guys have been playing really hard, and I've been trying to heal quicker," stated Brassard, who scored 18 goals and totaled 45 points this season. "I want to get back out there and help out."
Brassard's linemate, Benoit Pouliot, did not practice on Wednesday. He was given a maintenance day by head coach Alain Vigneault. Pouliot has yet to record a point in this series after totaling eight in the previous two series against the Flyers and Penguins.