Brassard: No regrets on play that led to Bruins' win
BOSTON -- New York Rangers forward Derick Brassard can live with the decision he made with the puck near the end of overtime of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Bruins, the decision that directly led to the Bruins' game-winning goal.
He did say he would like the opportunity to rewind to the moment so he could try it again.
"It was the right play," Brassard said Saturday after the first full-team practice since his team lost 3-2 in overtime in Game 1. "I just need to make it."
Brassard carried the puck down the right wing with speed. He looked to his left and saw linemate Rick Nash coming down from the point into open space near the circle and Ryan McDonagh cutting through the middle to the net. Brassard tried to get the puck to Nash, but Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara used his long stick and reach to poke it away, setting up a 2-on-1 for Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Marchand outmuscled Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello, who was slow on the backcheck, to get inside position in the slot so he could receive the centering pass from Bergeron and redirect it past Henrik Lundqvist to give Boston the win and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
"If I would do it again today I would have done the same thing, but I probably would have tried to maybe go higher and [saucer pass] it to Rick there," Brassard said. "In the playoffs you need to make those plays because they end up in our net. I'll be better next game and we'll be better as a team."
Rangers coach John Tortorella said he had no problem with the decision Brassard made, despite the consequences.
"If the puck gets to [Nash] there, he has a great scoring chance," Tortorella said after Game 1. "It's the right play."
Brassard didn't have much time to think about Chara's reach or stick in that fraction of a second as the play developed, but Saturday he admitted he was surprised the 6-foot-9 defenseman was able to make the play to poke the pass away.
"Chara read it perfectly," Brassard said. "I can't be really surprised with his long reach, but it kind of shocked me that he came really quick to move it out of the way."
Chara's stick, reach and position on the play speaks to a bigger issue the Rangers know they have to deal with and perhaps find an answer for in Game 2.
After playing one game against Boston and dissecting various elements of it over the past two days, the Rangers have come to the conclusion that getting the Bruins out of their defensive structure, especially in the neutral zone, is going to be a challenge.
"They're really detailed in their structure," McDonagh said. "They don't get out of that structure much. You don't see them running around. They seem to know where each other are on the ice, both coming out of their zone and in the neutral zone. They have really good chemistry having played together for a while."
The Bruins' structure affected the Rangers' forecheck, which was inconsistent through regulation and non-existent in overtime of Game 1.
"They clog it up pretty well," Callahan said. "It's hard to get pucks in behind their defensemen. That scenario we need to improve on, something we need to focus on."
They have over the past two days, but the challenge will be establishing their forecheck in Game 2 despite the structure and Chara's long reach, which is disruptive no matter where he is on the ice.
"We're focusing here on coming out with a little bit better start," McDonagh said. "We want to set the tempo on how we want to play. Regardless of what happened in the first game we want to get back to playing an aggressive style, fast-paced, tempo and really generate scoring chances that way."