BY: Josh Taylor, KDKA-TV Sports
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Penguins’ center Derick Brassard returned to practice Monday morning, and was a full participant on the ice at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry. Brassard has been out of the lineup with a lower body injury since he left the game on March 21 against the Detroit Red Wings.
Head coach Mike Sullivan says Brassard will be monitored over the next couple days, but he has not made a decision on Brassard’s status for the Penguins’ first game in their first-round playoff series Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I feel pretty good out there,” Brassard said after practice. “It’s been a long week and a half or so. I’ve been working really hard to be ready for the playoffs, and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
“It’s great to have him back out there,” said captain Sidney Crosby. “Certainly, you want to have a healthy lineup as much as you can. It’s not always easy, especially this time of year, but it would be great to have him back.”
Brassard has scored three goals with five assists in 14 games with the Penguins since being acquired from the Ottawa Senators in a three-team trade on February 23.
“I was pretty upset with missing those last couple games,” Brassard said. “I felt like I was turning a corner with this team here, but it is what it is. Injuries are a part of the game, and you just have to do as much rehab as you can, get some rest and try to get healthy.”
Brassard has earned the reputation of a clutch performer in the playoffs, having scored 22 goals with 33 assists in 78 career postseason games.
“He’s an experienced player,” said forward Carl Hagelin, who played with Brassard for three seasons with the New York Rangers. “He’s a big time player; and obviously, he’s going to help us a lot. Last year in the playoffs for Ottawa he had some big games. He just rises to the occasion, and those are the type of players you want to have on your team this time of year.”
The first-round series against the Flyers will be the first for the Penguins against their cross-state rival since 2011-12. Games 1 and 2 will be played at PPG Paints Arena Wednesday and Friday. Both games will begin at 7 p.m.