Two French Canadians and a Norwegian Walk Into a Bar…
The line of Derick Brassard flanked by Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello have been clicking since Christmas. At least that’s the way head coach Alain Vigneault sees it. That line gave Pittsburgh fits last night and got the Rangers the win.
BENOIT POULIOT (ALFRED, ONTARIO)
Benoit Pouliot has probably been the most surprising of the trio after netting a goal and an assist in game 1. For much of the 1st half, people wondered what Vigneault saw in the huge winger. In the first two months of the season, Pouliot had 2 goals and 4 points in 27 games. He scored 13 goals and 32 points the rest of the way and completed the line with Brass and Zucc. His contributions in the playoffs have been even better with 3 goals and 6 points in 8 contests.
DERICK BRASSARD (HULL, QUEBEC)
Derick Brassard was coming off an excellent playoff the year before. Expectations were high coming into this season, but he struggled. Brassard finished the year with 18 goals and 45 points and continued to have struggles in round one. He managed just 2 assists against the Flyers but things may be looking up in round 2. The overtime marker may be the break Brassard needs to get going offensively. However, what shouldn’t be lost is the maturity Derick has shown in all three zones.
MATS ZUCCARELLO (OSLO, NORWAY)
The true key to the line is Mats Zuccarello. He led the Rangers in scoring for the year with 59 points (19 goals and 40 assists), and seems to elevate his game when it counts. Zuccarello has 2 goals and 4 points in the playoffs so far, but his responsibilities have grown. He was a regular on the power play during the year, but now he’s being deployed as a penalty killer as well. His ability and speed keeps the opposition honest and helps the defense down low. Mix in Zucc’s fiery spirit and he’s perfect in any capacity the Rangers utilize him in.
So, two French Canadians and a Norwegian walk into a bar in Pittsburgh. The first Frenchman passes it to the second Frenchman who scores, but the second Frenchman passes it back to the first Frenchman who scores again. Meanwhile, the little Norwegian laughs all the way back to the locker room. If you think the joke is terrible, just ask how the Penguins feel?