Derick Brassard’s status for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals is shrouded in mystery. Sort of.
Following the Rangers’ optional skate Thursday morning, head coach Alain Vigneault told English-speaking reporters Brassard was day-to-day. However, when he spoke with French-language reporters, Vigneault said the center was likely out.
Brassard only skated two shifts in Game 1 before being leveled by a Mike Weaver check. He sat out Game 2, but did practice Wednesday Rangers. He was not available for comment Thursday.
Vigneault did say Brassard’s linemate, Benoit Pouliot, was “good” following a day off Wednesday.
Go for the kill
Among the myriad reasons the Rangers entered Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals with a 2-0 series lead has been a strong penalty killing effort.
The Rangers have killed all seven power-plays against in the first two games, and the man down units are 20-for-20 dating back to the Metropolitan Division finals series against Penguins.
“I’d say a combination of the willingness to get in shooting lanes and having good sticks,” Vigneault said when asked why his penalty kill has been so successful. “Penalty killing is four guys on the ice working together with the goaltender, and our guys have done a good job.
“You have three great teams [in the Flyers, Penguins and Canadiens] with three great power plays. Each team has his own tendencies. You analyze it, you come up with a plan to go up against those tendencies and you make sure that you’ve got great goaltending — and that’s been probably the biggest part of our penalty killing.”
Weise happy in Montreal
In his mind, all Dale Weise needed was an opportunity.
He is receiving just that with the Canadiens, and both couldn’t be happier.
Weise has become a useful contributor to the Canadiens in this playoff run, having recorded five points (three goals and two assists) while playing in all 13 playoff games this spring. The Canadiens acquired Weise from Vancouver on Feb. 3.
“Personally, it’s nice that my offensive side has had a chance to come out,” Weise said. “I think when I got to Montreal, [head coach] Michel [Therrien] instilled some confidence in me, and I can’t say enough good things about him.
“I think the biggest thing in the NHL is experience. The more you play, the more comfortable you get. I think that’s the biggest thing. I don’t know if I’ve changed. I haven’t gotten more skill, I haven’t gotten faster — maybe I have — but it’s all just experience. You get into a positive environment with a coaching staff and organization that believes in you, that goes a long way.”
Weise was a fourth-round pick by the Rangers in 2008, but never really caught on in New York. He played in just 10 games in the 2010-11 season and had no points. But Weise was waived the following October and claimed by the Canucks.
Isles keep pick, ink Halak
Essentially, the Islanders bet they will be much improved next season.
In separate announcements Thursday afternoon, the Islanders reported they have retained their 2014 first-round draft pick, and have agreed to terms on a four-year deal with goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
As part of the Thomas Vanek trade, the Islanders held the option to surrender their 2014 first-round pick or their first in 2015. The Islanders have the fifth pick in the June 27 draft in Philadelphia.
Halak’s deal is worth $18 million, according to Newsday.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.