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Rangers hope Brassard at point sparks power play

by Tal Pinchevsky

NEW YORK -- Since being acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline from the Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers forward Derick Brassard has done practically everything asked of him.

In 13 regular-season games with New York, he had five goals and 11 points. He added nine points in the final five games of the Rangers' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, helping them rally past the Washington Capitals.

With New York down 2-0 in their conference semifinal series against the Boston Bruins heading into Game 3 Tuesday at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS), Brassard may have his most difficult task yet: bringing the Rangers' dormant power play back to life.

Brassard briefly played the point on the Rangers' first power-play unit in Game 2 and continued to practice his point play with New York's defensemen in an optional skate held Tuesday morning. It's not the first time he's quarterbacked his team's power play, but he admits the dynamic of playing there with the man-advantage is a significant change from playing down low.

"I played the point my first year. It's different than playing in front," Brassard said. "You have to move on the blue line and make sure you shoot the puck. That's what I'm planning on doing. Our power play needs to be good and we need to score some goals."

Just being "good" would be a marked improvement. Entering Game 3, the Rangers boast a 5.6-percent success rate during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Only the Minnesota Wild, who were shut out with the man-advantage in their five-game Western Conference Quarterfinal series loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, have been worse in the postseason.

Since eliminating the Capitals in seven games, the Rangers have gone 0-for-8 on the power play against the Bruins. To Brassard's credit, he scored one of the Rangers' two power-play goals this postseason and assisted on the other.

Even with Brassard on the point, the Rangers power play has its work cut out against a Bruins team that ranked fourth in the League on the penalty kill during the regular season. But the Toronto Maple Leafs scored five times on 21 power-play attempts against Boston in the first round, so there is a precedent for the Bruins' shorthanded units giving up goals.

"They pressure the points really hard on their [penalty kill]. I think we could do a better job," Brassard said. "I thought last game we actually moved the puck around pretty good. We didn't score any goals, but it was a good step."

If the Rangers power play does hope to make a greater contribution moving forward in the series, Brassard said he believes the unit will need to forget the struggles it's experienced the past few weeks.

"I think we just need to relax. We all know the power play needs to be good for us," Brassard said. "If we're going on the ice and gripping our stick and everyone's nervous, we're not going to be any better. I think we just need to calm down and relax, and we'll eventually score a goal."

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