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Taub: Brassard Becoming Unsung Hero of the Isles’ Historic Run

There has been so many players that have stepped up during the New York Islanders’ current streak of 15 straight games with a point. But one player in particular, Derick Brassard, has stood out from the rest.

In the Isles’ run including last night, Brassard has 14 points — six goals and eight assists. Overall Brassard, who celebrated his 32nd birthday just before the season started, has 15 points in 19 games. That sits him third among the team just behind Brock Nelson and Mathew Barzal.

For a one-year, $1.2 million deal, Brassard is not only making g.m. Lou Lamoriello look like a genius, but he’s making his deal look like the smash hit of the offseason. People need to remember he was a part of the late second to third-tier of unrestricted free agents this summer. A list that included Pat Maroon, Jason Spezza, Tyler Ennis, etc; Brassard has played the most of three combined, and his 15 points are more than all three individually.

From the moment he was signed, there was both positive feedback and criticism for Brassard who, was coming of a prior campaign that saw him dealt three times and lose his confidence in the process. And early on this season, that criticism was validated. Brassard struggled mightily the first eight games of the year focusing more on not trying messing up in head coach Barry Trotz’s system instead of playing how he knows best. Now, there’s no doubting just how instrumental he’s become in this run and how special this team can be.

“There’s a lot of pride in this room,” Brassard said after the Islanders’ latest dramatic win last night. “There’s a lot of character in this room now and what we’re doing is something special. I’ve never lived that anywhere in any league.

Consider this: Where would the Isles be if not for Brassard’s play the past few weeks? Where would they be if Trotz didn’t make another smart decision and move him from center to the wing?

Full credit should go to Brassard for picking up the slack as the Islanders were hammered with injuries at the forward position, mainly wingers Jordan Eberle and Matt Martin. Trotz also deserves praise for keeping his patience with the newcomer and unleashing the “Big Game Brass” Islander fans had come to remember when he was a major player for the rival Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Ever since the move to wing, Brassard has looked more comfortable and extremely poised.

“The biggest thing with him moving to the wing is I think he’s a responsible person, he understands how we play,” Trotz said last week. “I think he was making sure he was sound defensively. Maybe that natural offensive instinct that he has, I wouldn’t say was stifled, but maybe he was thinking, ‘I’m just going to do the right plays.’”

The chemistry Brassard has developed with his younger French counterpart, Anthony Beauvillier, has also provided the Islanders offense with another dynamic. Brassard has awoken Beauvillier, who has five goals in his last three games.

“He’s been like a big brother to me,’” said Beauvillier to the New York Times‘ Allan Kreda. “He has a lot of experience and he knows how to take care of himself. He’s easy going and fun-loving — a typical French guy.”

The Hull, QC native has also found something special with the team’s most dangerous forward, Barzal.

Brassard and Barzal have been lights out when they’ve been on the ice together. According to hockeyreference.com, the two have combined for four of the Islanders’ 53 goals during the streak. What’s more important is that two of those goals have come on the power play. The power play was another facet that Brassard was brought in to help improve, and thus far he’s done that in spades. Ranked tenth in the league right now, Brassard has one power play goal and three points on the man-advantage for an Isles squad that’s 8-for-37 in that category.

The Islanders look like one of the best teams in the league and Brassard being at the forefront signifies that he could play a major role over the next few months. No one expected him to accomplish what he’s done thus far. It’s great for Brassard after what he went through last season and very beneficial for an Isles squad that wants to take that next step towards being a playoff contender.

Once this run finally comes to a close, it will rank right up there with the franchise’ legendary streak of 15-straight wins in 1981-82. And it will have been the rise of Derick Brassard that made it so significant.

Follow me on Twitter at @RTaub_






About Rob Taub

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