New York Rangers forward Derick Brassard left practice early Tuesday limping and holding his lower back, apparently sustaining the injury while the Rangers did special teams work in preparation for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Coach Alain Vigneault did not offer any specifics, but believes Brassard will play Thursday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; TSN, CNBC).
"I would say yes," Vigneault told reporters.
Centering the Rangers' third line with Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot, Brassard scored a career-high 18 goals in 81 games this season. His seven power-play goals were tied with Pouliot for the team lead and he tied center Derek Stepan for second with 18 power-play points. He had nine points (five goals, four assists) in his final 13 regular-season games, and has combined with Zuccarello and Pouliot for nine points in the past four games.
J.T. Miller, called up from Hartford of the American Hockey League on Monday, took Brassard's spot between Zuccarello and Pouliot.
"That's one of the reasons why we called up J.T., we feel that if one part of any line goes down that he has the potential and the skill set to come in for an amount of time and take that spot," Vigneault said. "If we need him, I am confident he will come in and fill a good role for us."