Brassard at Center of Revolving Lines

Penguins forward talks mixing lines, rematch vs Habs

Josh Rowntree
October 12, 2018 - 2:05 pm
Pittsburgh Penguins center Derick Brassard (19) takes the ice to play the Buffalo Sabres at PPG PAINTS Arena. Pittsburgh won 5-1.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Penguins center Derick Brassard is no stranger to movement, so getting an early change to his line in Thursday’s 4-2 Pittsburgh win over Vegas was to be expected. 

“The combos are pretty much changing pretty much every second game,” Brassard said Friday. “You just have to adjust to who ever you’re playing with. Everyone plays with a different style.”

The styles on Brassard’s right wing were certainly different. He began the game with speedster Bryan Rust. But, Mike Sullivan, looking to find some synergy on the top line, shift Rust to Sidney Crosby’s wing and dropped Patric Hornqvist with Brassard and Dominik Simon.

“Two guys that are hard on pucks,” Brassard said of Hornqvist and Rust. “(Hornqvist) is always in front of the net and Bryan’s a guy who is going to win it with his feet. He’s got really good speed, so you just have to adjust as a player.”

Pittsburgh’s third line, while Rust was on it, got off to a strong start Thursday, controlling the puck for an extended shift in Vegas’ zone. The play did not drastically drop off when Hornqvist joined, but it did not have the same flair. 

But after allowing eleven goals in its first two games, the Penguins were in need of a stronger defensive effort from that line. And it got just that.

“I think the biggest part for us, defensively, is when we have the puck,” Brassard said. “The way we manage it, whether it’s in the offensive zone or the defensive zone. 

“It’s about playing the right side of it in the offensive zone and, when we have it, it’s to keep it and try to make the right decision with it.”

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan emphasized own-zone play and toughness on the puck leading up to the win against the Golden Knights. 

“Our decisions have to be better, especially in the key areas on the ice,” Brassard added. “If we do that, we’re still going to have offense. We’re still going to create. We just have to make better decisions and spend less time in the defensive zone.”

Brassard grew up not far from Montreal, the site of Pittsburgh’s next game. The Penguins will look for revenge from last week’s 5-1 beatdown at the hands of the Canadiens Saturday night.

“It’s a pretty cool building,” Brassard added. “You feel like the fans are right on top of you with the way the building is shaped. There’s always a nice little buzz around there. 

“Whatever happened in the past is in the past. But yeah, we didn’t play our best game and we’re lucky enough to play those guys two games after that and we’re going to try to play better.”

Hear all of what Derick Brassard had to say below.

Murray to Travel

Penguins goalie Matt Murray, who did not play in Thursday's win due to a concussion, will travel with the team to Montreal, but is still considered day-to-day, according to Sullivan. 

As of Friday afternoon, Murray still needed to meet with doctors to be cleared to return to game action. He did, however., participate in Thursday's morning skate and the entirety of Friday's practice.