Kenny Albert: ‘Besides Henrik, Brassard Has Been Best Player’

The New York Rangers’ record in elimination games has been downright absurd. In fact, it brings new meaning to the word clutchness.

Wait, is that a word?

“It is now,” NHL play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “It’s been crazy. They’ve won 10 straight elimination games at home, 15-3 now in the last 18 elimination games, four this year, 9-1 over the last two years. Henrik Lundqvist is the key when you look at all those numbers. Before he came to the Rangers, they missed the playoffs seven straight years. Ever since his arrival in 2005, nine out of 10 years in the playoffs, three Eastern Conference Finals the last four years, a Stanley Cup trip last year, a Presidents’ Trophy this year and another Game 7 (Friday) night.”

All of which is to say Scott Ferrall thinks it’d be crazy to bet against Lundqvist and the Rangers in Game 7 – even though they’ve been better on the road this series. The Rangers have scored just four goals in three home games – as compared to 17 goals in three away games.

“Game 2, there were so many penalties, and players admitted that they couldn’t take stupid penalties (like that) moving forward,” Albert said of the Rangers’ 6-2 loss. “(Lundqvist) allowed three power play goals and the one short-handed goal, so that was a bit of an aberration. And again, Tampa’s a terrific team and you never know what might happen (in Game 7), but I agree with you: Lundqvist in these single-game situations (has been unbelievable), and it dates back to the Olympics in 2006 when Sweden won the gold medal. He won a single-elimination game in the quarterfinals, the semifinals and then the gold medal game against Finland. Even prior to the success he’s had in the NHL payoffs, in those one-game scenarios, he’s come up huge.”

Not bad for the 205th pick of the 2000 NHL Draft.

“Every NHL team passed on him – depending on how many draft picks they had – six or seven or eight times,” Albert said.

Lundqvist is tied with Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur for the most Game 7 wins of all time, with six. He’s hoping for lucky No. 7 on Friday.

While Lundqvist has been solid in net once again, Derick Brassard has been brilliant offensively, with nine goals and seven assists in the playoffs.

“When they acquired Brassard, that was the (Marian) Gaborik deal three years ago,” Albert said. “There was a mixed reaction when you trade a guy that had scored 40 goals two out of three years. And Brassard comes in and he scores four points his first night as a Ranger against Pittsburgh. He gets off the plane and has a four-point game a couple of hours later. Aside from Lundqvist, the last three years in the playoffs, Brassard has probably been the Rangers’ best player. You could point to the defensemen (Ryan) McDonagh and (Dan) Girardi, but offensively, Brassard is having another terrific playoff. He had a five-point game the other night, and the thing I like about him, he’s a great guy, first of all. He’s one of the nicer guys in the league. But he signed a big contract last summer – five years, $25 million. Some guys would have coasted along after that, once they signed that deal. He’s gotten better.”

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