PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins got one of the most coveted players available before last week’s NHL trade deadline in Derick Brassard, and the center is starting to get comfortable with his new club.
With Ottawa, Brassard played in a much different style than the Penguins employ.
“I think I have to think more offense and still play on the right side of the puck,” said Brassard, who scored his first goal in a Penguins uniform Saturday in a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Islanders.
Article continues below ...
“On my previous team, I was playing more on the defensive side all the time and we were a little bit more patient in our game. Here, there’s a lot speed, a lot of skill and we’re trying to play a fast-paced game. That’s what I try to tell myself on the bench.”
Monday at PPG Paints Arena, Brassard and the Penguins will face the Calgary Flames (32-25-9), a team that has lost three in a row.
Pittsburgh (37-25-4) had its own three-game slide before Saturday’s win, and it ended with the help of Brassard’s tying goal in the third period.
It was the first win in his third game with his new team. Brassard is centering the Penguins’ third line, with Phil Kessel as his regular right winger. Pittsburgh has invested high hopes in the pair.
“I think they played well together,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “They’re obviously two very good players. (Brassard) sees the ice well. He’s a good playmaker. And Phil is as well. Hopefully, with each game that they play together, they feel a little bit more comfortable.”
Despite having a goal and an assist in his three games, Brassard is still adjusting to playing with a sniper such as Kessel.
“We’re not there yet, but every game I think it’s better,” he said.
Brassard joined Pittsburgh in time for the stretch run in a tight race. The Penguins are third in the Metropolitan.
The Flames, meanwhile, begin a three-game road trip trying to claw their way to a playoff spot while brushing aside their losing streak.
Calgary practiced for less than 30 minutes Saturday and used Sunday as a travel day with no practice, with coach Glen Gulutzan saying the team needed “to take advantage of these two days when we can get a little bit of down time before we head out again.”
There are also stops in Buffalo and Ottawa on the trip.
“This is our season coming up,” Flames captain Mark Giordano told NHL.com. “We have to find a way to get points in these games coming up here.”
Goalie Mike Smith (lower body) is not expected to travel on the road trip. Calgary is 3-6-1 during his absence.
But the Flames could get top-line winger Michael Ferland back. He has been out four games because of an upper-body injury, and Johnny Gaudreau, also part of the top line, has no points in those four games.
“If I’m a betting man, I’d say he’s going to be in on Monday,” Gulutzan said of Ferland. “So he’ll be on the trip. Looks like everything should be a go, as long as there are no setbacks.”