Derick Brassard bounces back to secure New York Rangers playoff spot

Buffalo Sabres v New York Rangers

Coming into Monday night’s tired match-up against the Buffalo Sabres, the New York Rangers stood second in the Metropolitan Division – on 57 points. They needed to beat the Sabres in order to hold onto their playoff spot going into the All-Star break.

Rangers sat 16 points behind the Met, and the league leaders Washington Capitals. Following a barren four-game win December, NYR have begun to rediscover a bit of form, sporting a 6-3-1 in their last ten games.

Brassard’s struggles

Derick Brassard’s last point came on January 11 against the Bruins. In New York’s last six games he has failed to get on the score sheet – one game he missed due to illness – and the Rangers only won half of those games.

He’s taken on more of a goal scoring role than in seasons past. During last season, he achieved his career best record of 19 goals and 41 assists. This season, after 47 games, Brassard has 15 goals and 31 points.

The New York center is on for the best goal-scoring season of his career, but a five-game slump is very hard to shift, even for the best players.

Buffalo fight back

Despite being a much better team than last season – playing far more exciting hockey – Buffalo are amongst the bottom of the league. During their 42 points in 48 games, they’ve shown a lot of potential and have pulled off some big results.

The Sabres have been a lot of team’s bogey side, due to their huge amount of energy and never-say-die attitude.

1:06 into the third period, Derick Brassard added a goal to his first-period assist, putting the Rangers to 3-1. But the Buffalo youngsters continued to fight. Here’s the goal, courtesy of Blueshirt Banter.

At 4:31 and 5:44 of the third period, Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons was teed up by Jack Eichel twice to tie the game up to three a piece.

Just a minute after the score drew even, Brassard commenced a Rangers breakaway, claiming the secondary assist that allowed J.T. Miller to put New York back on top.

A few minutes later, whilst on the powerplay, Brassard got another secondary assist on Mats Zuccarello, which was "The Hobbit's" 18th goal of the season.

The Sabres, as they’ve done all season, continued to fight against the rising tide, but the game ended on Derick Brassard getting his second goal of the game – scoring on Buffalo’s empty net.

Brassard’s five-point game earned him the first star. This is what he had to say about the importance of the win and his return to goal scoring – credit to MSG Networks.

Much needed security coming into the break

With the New York Rangers now sitting on 59 points, none of Tampa Bay, New Jersey or the Islanders can boot them from their second place Metropolitan spot before the All-Star break.

New York should take a lot of confidence from the hard fought win against the Sabres, and Brassard’s five-point game earned him a place on Sportsnet’s Stars of the Night.

Do you think that Derick Brassard will eclipse his current career record of 60 points? How well will the Rangers do in the playoffs? Have your say below.

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