GREENBURGH, N.Y -- As his first NHL playoff games approach, Derick Brassard recalled his close call in 2008-09 with Columbus.
"If we would have got past Detroit, I could've played in the second round,'' said Brassard, who played 31 games that year before injuring his shoulder in a fight and undergoing season-ending surgery. "I was kind of rattled,'' he said. "I did my rehab in Montreal, but [coach Ken Hitchcock] wanted me back, so I was with the team, practicing every day, but the doctors wouldn't clear me. Every year, I'd go back home with my buddies, watching the [playoff] games at night . . . I know how intense they are.''
To finally be in the postseason "feels awesome,'' said Brassard, who has five goals and 11 points in 13 games since being acquired in the Marian Gaborik trade. "We have a good team; we can do a lot of damage.''
With a jammed schedule and little time for practice, Thursday's start allows "a couple practices to get ourselves ready and it gives guys a little time to heal,'' he said. "It was good to be out there for an hour-and-a-half.''
Working on the power
The second half of practice was spent on the power play, a sore spot all season, and 6-for-44 recently. The first unit was Brad Richards and Dan Girardi on the points, Rick Nash and Derek Stepan on the wings and Ryan Callahan in front. The second- unit points were John Moore and Michael Del Zotto with Taylor Pyatt, Brassard and Mats Zuccarello up front.
Marc Staal practiced and said he has not "written off" playing against the Capitals. But the vision in his right eye, damaged by a deflected puck against the Flyers on March 5, remains blurry. Staal said he needs to feel comfortable on the ice for several consecutive days before returning . . . Derek Dorsett (broken clavicle) underwent a CT scan and was not cleared for contact, so he participated only in part of practice. Ryane Clowe (injured against Carolina) and Brian Boyle (right leg) did not practice . . . Stepan was named April's third star by the NHL.