Struggling Penguins to get lineup boost from return of Derick Brassard
OTTAWA – Derick Brassard will make his return to the lineup when the Pittsburgh Penguins meet the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.
Brassard has missed nine games with a lower-body injury. The Penguins went 2-6-1 in his absence.
He was activated from the injured reserve list Saturday afternoon. Garrett Wilson was sent to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to make room on the roster.
Brassard is expected to center Jake Guentzel and Phil Kessel on the second line against the Senators.
“I’m just going to try to skate and keep everything simple and give the puck to Phil as much as I can,” Brassard said after morning skate.
If Brassard plays, he’ll be facing his old team for the first time since Ottawa traded him to the Penguins last February. Brassard is on his fourth NHL team, so it’s an experience he’s been through before.
“The toughest thing so far for me in my career was playing with the Senators against New York in the (2017) playoffs,” Brassard said. “It’s always a little bit weird to come back and play your old friends. They’re still my friends, but you know, play my former team. You have to put everything aside and focus on playing.
“We’re in a tough stretch right now. We have a lot more things to worry about. I’m going to try to do my best to play well tonight.”
After the trade of Erik Karlsson and a handful of off-ice troubles, most preseason predictions had the Senators at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. Brassard said he’s not surprised by his old team’s respectable 8-8-3 start.
“When you have a player like (Mark) Stone up front that I know plays the right way, loves the game, I think he’s one of the most underrated players in the league,” Brassard said. “Probably a future star (Thomas Chabot) on the back end. You always have a chance. They have a lot of good young players with a good mix of veteran guys. I’m not surprised maybe they’re going to do better than last year.”
Sidney Crosby, meanwhile, made the trip to Ottawa and continues to skate on his own, but did not participate with teammates in morning skate and will not play against the Senators. He is expected to miss about a week with an upper-body injury.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.