Donald Brashear had only been back from injury for four games when he got suspended for six. Without Brashear the Caps had gone 0-2 versus the New York Rangers losing by scores of 4-3 and 1-0.
On “The Donald’s” first night back in game three, the Caps won 4-0. During round one of the playoffs the Caps averaged 3.75 goals a game when he played, and 1.66 goals a game when he didn’t. In contrast, the Rangers scored an average of 2.00 goals a game when Brash didn’t play and 1.00 goals per game when he did.
Why is this information important? Because Donald Brashear’s suspension is now over.
With the Caps now trailing three games to two, Brashear’s return could be just the boost the Caps need. He may not score a lot. He may not get a lot of assists, but it’s hard to deny that the team seems to play better when he’s there.
Brashear played a total of four games out of seven versus New York. In the three games that he didn’t play, the Caps went 1-2 and the combined scores for both teams was 6-5 Rangers. During the four games he did play the Caps went 3-1 and the combined score for both teams was 14-5 Capitals.
Brashear is an intimidating force that should never be taken lightly. It’s more than just the fisticuffs which he is more widely known for, it’s his dominance on the fore-check that wears down the opponents. He is part of what’s called “the Energy Line” for good reason. When you pair him up with Matt Bradley and David Steckel, you have a line every bit as intimidating as Ovechkin, Kozlov, and Federov.
It gives the Caps a solid fourth line and forces opposing teams to either play their own fourth line, or heavily rotate their three lines to keep up. It can really test the depth of the other teams. Their choices are to either thin out their talent across four lines to matchup with the Caps, or risk wearing out before the Caps do by keeping their three lines out for longer shifts.
The Caps need a big game tonight. They need to send a message to Pittsburgh that this series isn’t over. Brashear’s first game of the playoffs came in game three, with the Caps down two games to none, headed to New York, and reeling off a 1-0 shutout loss.
His first game back was a 4-0 shutout win for the Caps.
Now he comes back to find his team with their backs against the wall, facing elimination, headed to Pittsburgh, and reeling off a 4-3 overtime loss.
Can he bring back the magic one more time? We’ll know tonight at 7pm!