Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Brassard, Zibanejad Comparisons Inevitable as Sens, Rangers Battle in NHL Playoffs

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Brassard, Zibanejad Comparisons Inevitable as Sens, Rangers Battle in NHL Playoffs

Article excerpt

Brassard, Zibanejad comparisons inevitable


OTTAWA - It may not be fair, but comparisons between Derick Brassard and Mika Zibanejad will be inevitable as the Ottawa Senators take on the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Senators acquired Brassard and a seventh round pick in exchange for Zibanejad and a second-round pick in a big trade nine months ago. Now they are set to face off in the second round of the NHL playoffs, and measuring two centres against each other will likely be a persistent storyline throughout the series.

"He's a good player," said Brassard of Zibanejad. "The Rangers got a really good, young centreman, but it's not about me and him here. It's two hockey teams going at it. I respect him as a player, as a person, but at the end of the day there's hockey trades happening every year and there's always players changing address."

That's not to say Brassard wouldn't love to beat his former team and earn some bragging rights.

"It's going to be special and I'm just planning on not changing anything and doing what I do best, but it is a little more special than usual," Brassard said. "We have a goal as a team and right now they're in the way. It doesn't matter if it's the Rangers or any other team around the league I'm going to try and do our best to try and advance."

When the Senators acquired Brassard in the off-season, general manager Pierre Dorion said Ottawa acquired a veteran player who could not only help them get to the playoffs, but also help them win in the playoffs.

So far Brassard hasn't disappointed -- at least in the post-season. During the regular season Brassard was underwhelming with 14 goals and 25 assists in 81 games, his lowest full-season point total since 2009-10.

In comparison Zibanejad had 14 goals and 37 points through 56 games before the 24-year-old missed over two months with a broken fibula suffered in November.

Despite the totals, Senators management and its coaching staff said they were pleased with Brassard's performance, and that from an analytics perspective, based on the team's own calculations, Brassard had been the Senators' best forward. …

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