This is just how things are for the Rangers, isn’t it? When they win, it’s almost never easy. And when they win easily, there’s the caveat of an injury. There’s always something.
Today, it was the departure of Derick Brassard in the first period of what was an otherwise flawless showing from the New York Rangers. Skating into the offensive zone, Brassard dished a puck over to Benoit Pouliot before getting nailed by Montreal defenseman Mike Weaver.
To Weaver’s credit, it was a good, clean hit, and Brassard set himself up for it by admiring his pass. Brassard received treatment from Head Trainer Jim Ramsay before going to the locker room, where he stayed for the remainder of the game. After the game, Alain Vigneault called him “day-to-day” but refused to give any sort of clue as to what the injury is. Brassard confirmed the “day-to-day” diagnosis.
“It’s nothing serious… hopefully I’m going to be ready to play on Monday (for Game Two),” he told reporters. “The reason why I came back was because I didn’t feel I could play well for the team.”
The Rangers more than survived his absence today, but one has to question how him being out for any longer could affect the team. As phenomenal as Mats Zuccarello is, there’s a solid argument to be made that Derick Brassard is the glue that holds the team’s most consistent line together. He had four goals and two assists in the last eight games going into today’s matchup against the Canadiens, and without him the Rangers’ depth is very much stretched. Moore and Boyle are important role players but neither has any business being thrust onto a legitimate scoring line.
Vigneault also called McDonagh “day-to-day” before he missed the final six games of the season and seemed to be playing hurt for multiple weeks after that. So it’s hard to really judge what’s going on with Brassard. There’s a number of context clues which give reason for cautious optimism, however. Brassard spoke to the press, which in itself is indicative; usually badly injured players are held back from the media altogether after games. He was not visibly wearing any sort of sling or cast or wrap. Brassard saying that he didn’t return because he didn’t “feel he could help” implies that Rangers doctors did give him medical clearance to return. That obviously would not be the case if there was any sort of structural damage or anything serious like that. A reasonable guess is that Brassard is dealing with some sort of muscle soreness/stiffness and it’s just a matter of him getting comfortable enough to have it not hinder his play.
Still, we’re in the Eastern Conference Semi Finals. At absolute most, the Rangers have 13 games remaining in their season, and so what constitutes missing “significant” time is very different from what it would mean in, say, February. Even missing three or four games could be a big problem for the Rangers, but my personal guess is that we’ll see Brassard by Game Three at the latest.
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