The New York Rangers are heading back to the Verizon Center in Washington tied 2-2 in their first-round series against the Washington Capitals, and center Derick Brassard has been the team's catalyst for success.
In 13 regular-season games, Brassard scored five goals and added six assists for 11 points, but his play in the postseason has been exceptional for a team that had trouble scoring goals this season.
Thus far Brassard has five points in his last two games for New York, and his calm demeanor and ability to distribute the puck has helped the team get its offense going. After scoring one goal in Game 1 and getting shut out in Game 2, the Rangers have scored four goals in back-to-back games.
In Game 4 Brassard played 17:29 and had the primary assist on Carl Hagelin's goal in the second period and the primary assist on Dan Girardi's power-play goal to open the third period. Brassard also won 89 percent of his faceoffs—an area of weakness of late for the Blueshirts.
With the Columbus Blue Jackets, Brassard was a center who never actualized the potential that accompanied his No. 6 overall draft status. Injuries and other factors slowed Brassard's progress and effectiveness, but he has thrived in the spotlight of the playoffs in New York.
Brassard has been the Rangers' best forward in the series, and he has also made some solid defensive plays. When Gaborik was dealt over a month ago, there was a mixed reaction to acquiring a player who only had 18 points on the season.
If you took a poll among Rangers fans, I bet no one would expect this 25-year-old center to be the Rangers' most productive acquisition of the last 12 months.
New York has now done a good job shifting momentum in its favor, and the Rangers will be heading back to Washington with confidence.
The Rangers have been able to put eight pucks past netminder Braden Holtby in the past two games, and a few of them have been on the power play. Heading into Game 5, the Rangers are feeling good about themselves, and this series is far from over.