Derick Brassard’s confidence could be a factor for the New York Rangers in Friday’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

By Patrick Comia

Derick Brassard has become a clutch performer for the New York Rangers these playoffs. After Game Six’s five-point performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning, he has risen to shoulder the burden that was once reserved for his goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

There is no taking away from Lundqvist’s accomplishments, but the spotlight has shown on him his whole career with no other to share the stage.

However, that maybe changing.

In these playoffs, Brassard has sixteen points (nine goals, seven assists) in 18 games. He leads the team in goals and +/- rating with +9.

There is no taking away from Lundqvist’s accomplishments, but the spotlight has shown on him his whole career with no other to share the stage.

On Tuesday night in Tampa Bay, he led the charge with five points (three goals, two assists, and +5) in a must-win situation. In that game, he took charge and played with a confidence that had not been seen since the great Rangers captain Mark Messier laced up his skates for the Blueshirts.

Before puck was dropped, Brassard was interviewed on the ice. His point-blank answers, combined with his steely-eye gaze, gave an aura of confidence. Without saying so, he made it his responsibility to take over the game. Much like Lundqvist takes over complete games, Brassard did the same on Tuesday.

Brassard opened up the scoring with a back-handed shot that slipped under Ben Bishop. Then, it was a wrist shot that found the back of an open-net, after the Lightning’s goalie was fooled, for his second goal. To complete the hat-trick, Brassard took advantage of another open net, this time it was planned by the Lightning who pulled their goalie in favor of an extra man on the ice.

In addition, Brassard won over 53% of faceoffs taken that night.

Brassard’s three-goal performance is the first of it’s kind for the Rangers in an elimination game, since the Captain Messier accomplished the feat in 1994, as part of the Game Six “Guarantee” win over the New Jersey Devils during the Eastern Conference Final.1rangers2

It was the first for the Rangers in a road playoff game, since Wayne Gretzky accomplished in 1997. The last time a playoff hat trick was recorded was Michael Nylander in 2007 against the Atlanta Thrashers.

With his performance, Brassard basically told the rest of the team that no one man needs to carry the burden of being “the man.” The difficult task is shared by the whole team.

Now, the team is one win away from returning to the Stanley Cup Final. Friday night, the team plays in front of their home crowd with the mystique of a 7-0 record when facing hosting a Game Seven at Madison Square Garden. Just as Lundqvist is an important piece to tomorrow night’s success, Brassard may well become that complimentary player that Lundqvist has been without in season’s past.

As he did in Game Six, Brassard has the opportunity to take center stage in Madison Square Garden and become part of the history.

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I'm a blogger trying to make it in this world. Have been, and always will be, a fan of the NYR and NYG. Writing for the New Jersey Devils cause, well, someone has to do it!