Penguins center Derick Brassard thrilled with move to left wing
Whenever the topic of moving to the wing was broached in training camp, Pittsburgh Penguins center Derick Brassard reacted like most players who spent their first decade in the NHL at one particular position would.
He said he was open to trying to new things. He said he was willing to do whatever the coaching staff asked of him. There was some trepidation. On a scale of one to 10, his level of enthusiasm was probably a solid six.
On Saturday night in Montreal, the experiment moved from the realm of the theoretical into NHL reality. Brassard played left wing on the team’s top line with center Sidney Crosby and right wing Jake Guentzel.
Now that he has a game of experience to draw from, Brassard’s tune has changed. On the same scale, his enthusiasm level is now probably a 10. Maybe an 11.
“I just loved the experience,” Brassard said. “I think it’s going to being the best out of me. I just can’t wait for tomorrow. I want to try it again, over and over.”
The newly configured trio didn’t connect on the scoreboard Saturday, but Brassard said he liked the scoring chances they created and the possession time they racked up.
Brassard said he liked the fact that he and Crosby split faceoff duties so he could stay involved at the dot. He said he enjoyed not having goal-line-to-goal-line defensive responsibilities. He said he liked the challenge of engaging in board battles to get the puck to his linemates with speed.
He basically liked everything about playing the wing.
“I’m really confident in my ability to see the ice and making sure I can give that puck to (Crosby) when he has open space, and the same thing for Jake,” Brassard said. “I think we can be an effective line. If we compete hard, if we work hard, I think our skill is going to take over and we’re going to have success.”
Brassard said he is aware of the similar position switch that Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux made last season, leading to a career year that included 34 goals and 102 points.
“I know I can be a good player for that line,” Brassard said. “We just need more games. Eventually we’re going to have a breakout game. I know we can be an effective line for the team.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.