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New York’s third line ‘chemistry’ making a difference

May 3, 2014, 10:38 AM EDT

Rangers Senators Hockey AP

PITTSBURGH — Many teams don’t expect a lot of offense out of their third line, but the New York Rangers are happy to buck the trend.

The Rangers line centered by Derick Brassard with Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello on the wings provided two goals, including the game-winner, in New York’s 3-2 overtime win in Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“Since Christmas they’ve probably been our most consistent line,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “They’ve got real good chemistry, they read off one another and support one another well. Again tonight they were good with the puck, strong on the forecheck, and they scored two in overtime.”

Vigneault joked around, but the Rangers left no doubt they won the game. While it was Brassard’s overtime goal that ended it, it took video review to figure out it was his goal and not Pouliot’s follow up that ended the game.

“I thought it was in,” Brassard said. “The sound of the back post and the main post is different. I felt like it hit the inside of the goal. It doesn’t really matter, we got the job done after.”

The wackiness of the overtime winner aside, that line is one that’s been playing well for a while now and it’s one they feel helps make the Rangers a deeper team.

“I think it’s been like that for a little while,” Pouliot said. “I think playing with Brass and Zuccs, they’re such good playmakers. They know the game, they read the game, they see you wherever you are. It’s just a matter of chemistry. I don’t know, we’re just finding each other. We have a different role, every guy has a different role on that line and we’re really doing our job.”

“Chemistry” has been the buzzword for everyone on that line and they had success against the Penguins in the regular season as they scored six goals against them then. Chemistry came in handy again on Friday night after the Rangers blew an early 2-0 lead.

“I think we really enjoy playing with each other. We try to make a difference,” Brassard said. “I think we’re a pretty hard team to handle. We play four lines — three scoring lines, one checking line that’s really hard to handle. If we’re on our game, I think we’re pretty hard to handle. We always try to score more goals. We got scored on in the second period and we talked to each other said we have to get this back.”

It may have taken until overtime, but getting that one goal back helped give the Rangers the first step they were looking for in the series.

  1. nyeagles10 - May 3, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    w/o doubt one of best offense lines in the league. They get it done

    • elmerbrownelmerbrown - May 3, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      I think the Rangers are going to win the cup ! There is a certain feel about this team and its a championship feel !

      • elmerbrownelmerbrown - May 3, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        That being said this will be their easiest series to win Iam thinking a sweep a broom piece

      • cofran2004 - May 4, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        please stop being arrogant. we’re not pens fans. we don’t make douchey proclamations like that. and if the pens do come back, do you really want their fans to rub this in your face? c’mon man… logic over emotion every time.

      • elmerbrownelmerbrown - May 4, 2014 at 10:21 AM

        My pick is not based on emotion at all but rather based on being an educated logical hockey fan ! If everyone lived like you Vegas would not exist I put my money on the Rangers based on an educated guess not emotion so I’ll express my thoughts if I care too ,,,,,dbag !

      • cofran2004 - May 4, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        just sayin…. if the rangers lose this series, prepare to eat a lot of crow. the pens are not a team that will be easily swept. this is not going to be a sweep, i can promise you that. the rangers will win in 6, but I won’t be surprised if they go 7… again.

        d-bag.

      • elmerbrownelmerbrown - May 4, 2014 at 10:48 AM

        wow you covered all the bases grow a pair and make a prediction

        dbag

      • cofran2004 - May 4, 2014 at 10:49 AM

        did you not see my prediction? rangers in 6. learn to read, you illiterate tool.

      • elmerbrownelmerbrown - May 4, 2014 at 10:51 AM

        I think your prediction is wrong

      • cofran2004 - May 4, 2014 at 12:22 PM

        i respect your opinion. and I hope you’re right.

  2. nysportsrule - May 3, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    They’ve pretty much been our top line for a while now. I wrote Pouliot off at the beginning of the season, glad to say I was wrong.

  3. billiam55 - May 3, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    best line in the NHL. scoring more goals than crosbys line.

  4. 950003cups - May 3, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    GO PENS GO!!

  5. polishblue - May 3, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    It’s interesting and something I think most fans don’t realize or simply forget about. This line is titled as the third line, but in reality, this is like the rangers first line. And should we be shocked? Well, no not really. Look at it this way. Brass and Benny are both former 1st round picks. And zucc is the best Norwegian hockey player and former MVP of some European league (pardon my ignorance). But seriously, it’s like the rangers can roll 3 top lines. Almost kind of scary if your the opposition.

    • chip56 - May 4, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      Part of the success that this line is having should be attributed to the respect that coaches give to the players on the first two lines. In a match up league the Rangers present problems.

      The Nash, Stepan, St. Louis line is going to command the first pair defense. That means a coach has to determine whether he wants his second pair against the Richards line or this third line. Either way, one of those two groups of forwards is going up against a defense pair that’s at the lower tier of the depth chart.

  6. joey4id - May 3, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    Crosby not answering the bell & MAF’s funk is why CBJ had a chance to win the series and these two issues will make the difference in this series. When was the last game Crosby scored in the playoffs? Is it 0 goals in the last 10 playoff games?

    • idonthavethebloodyoucrave - May 3, 2014 at 12:16 PM

      Coming up 12 I think. Similar to Nash, the opposition is going to focus a majority of their energy to shut him down and force you to beat them without them. So some the lack of point production is going to be expected.

      Crosby does need to step up and find a way to lead better by example but those really were some garbage goals let in by Fleury.

      Pittsburgh played well enough to win and it has to be frustrating and hopefully, Fleury in particular, has to have a short memory.

      Give some credit to the Rangers third line though for capitalizing on their opportunities.

  7. nashernation - May 3, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    That line had great chemistry since December. It’s amazing that Zucc was benched earlier in the year. When he was reinserted into the lineup the team took off. I think Diaz should replace Moore to shore up the point for the power play.

    • cofran2004 - May 4, 2014 at 10:20 AM

      diaz made the powerplay look really good, but moore is better defensively. offense wins games, defense wins stanley cups…

  8. flyerspsu - May 3, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    Everybody needs to take it down a notch, great 3rd line/real solid top line w/ good chemistry but some of your comments are calling them w/o a doubt one of the best in the league and one even saying it is the best line in the league … really?

    Pouliot 80 gms 15 g 21 a 36 p

    Brassard 81 gms 18 g 27 a 45 p

    Zucc 77 gms 19 g 40 a 59 p

    the line has great chemistry and causes a lot of matchup problems, but cmon does that look like the best line on hockey like Billiam55 said or even w/o a doubt one of the best like nyeagles1?

    hopefully this doesnt come across as a bitter Flyers fan, i have no problem w/ the rangers and really like Zuccarello, just my thoughts

    • arrow43050 - May 4, 2014 at 12:13 AM

      I’m a Rangers fan and just clicked on the thumbs-up on that statement. Hit the nail on the head. They are good line, and one that gets the job done but not one that is going to strike fear in anyone’s heart. That sorta sums up all 3 offensive lines the Rangers have and that’s what causes problems for the opposition. Who do you put out when all 3 lines are equally capable of scoring? Where is the matchup mismatch? Which line gets the defensive lockdown line against it that most teams have or try to? Which line do you try to get your top line out against when all 3 lines are speed/puck-possession types with solid defensive instincts?

  9. joey4id - May 3, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    One thing we can all agree on is that Brad Richards is playing a lot better with AV than he did in the playoffs last year with Torts. If I remember correctly Richards was a healthy scratch a couple of times.

    • jkay1818 - May 3, 2014 at 3:48 PM

      Joey, he was, he also alienated guys like hagelin, played games with kreider, benched zuccarello on a few occasions and ran to the media about mcdoangh “and shutting up” he just wasn’t liked. the more you watch AV, you realize was a prick tortorella was. when avery called him out, he didnt just pluck it from the sky. guys like lundqvist are his best friend, they obviously talk. tortorella and his system got old but most important, the way he handled players.

      • idonthavethebloodyoucrave - May 3, 2014 at 5:04 PM

        I think Hagelin could score a 100 points a season and all I would remember is “HE STINKS!”

        That has to be horrible for a young player’s confidence for some years to come. That was messed up.

  10. jkay1818 - May 3, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    fkyerspu, you definitely came across as bitter. I have to agree with someone who posted above, they aren’t really considered their third line now, they have been basically their 1A or 1B unit for quite some time.

    One thing, can everyone seriously stop with the blue jackets blue print and “watching” them. they lost in six games, in a few of those they were severely outplayed. They had some gritty performances and used their size to play the body. Rangers aren’t know for their size, but, they are physical and finish checks, but, come on its apples and oranges. Enough with the jackets blue print already. rangers are a totally different team. bob, is a nice story, but lundqvist is superior, their defense are night and day and the team speed is in a different league. it’s totally different styles.

  11. hockeyfan763 - May 3, 2014 at 6:26 PM

    950003cups…………Rooting for the Penguins or just sour grapes because the Devils couldn’t win a freaking shoot out this year and missed the playoffs ? I think it’s the latter. I hope you had tears all over your Broduer pillow case after your “new” team lost in OT last night.

  12. bskid25 - May 3, 2014 at 7:32 PM

    950003cups why don’t you go post on the devils playoff blogs and articles… Oh, whoops…

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