Friday, March 08, 2013

Stepan Up!

Rick Nash did it again. Another late goal, his 8th, all in the third period to tie the game. And pariah Marian Gaborik also scored his 8th, the game winner, in OT. And Henrik Lundqvist, hearing it from the pro Ranger crowd, made 28 saves. In front of a noisy, fiesty, fighting crowd, and my two sons and grandson, the Rangers rang up their 4th straight win.

However, from these two old tired eyes the star of the game was Derek Stepan. The kid really has his game going and even when Brad Richards returns Stepan should be the number one center. He posted two big assists last night, on Nash's tying goal and Gabby's winner. His shot from the point was deflected by Nash with a little over five minutes left in the game and he won the big faceoff in OT that led to Gabby's winner. Stepan logged 23:10, had two assists and four shots and won ten faceoffs. Stepan was strong on the puck all night and seemed to control the game for the Rangers.

However, for those of you who read this space regularly this is not a new theme. I have been touting this kid a long time. Go back to my post of October 10, 2010, "A Star Is Born," and there is a story on a great game he played against the Sabres. Stepan in his first game scored a hat trick with the aid of two assists by a guy named Sean Avery. Yep, The Grate One. In fact the performance by Stepan and Avery led the legendary hockey maven, Stan Fischler, to tweet that Stepan and Avery formed a super duet. But that was then and now is now.

All hail Derek Stepan, a star whose time is come. Stay healthy kid, we need you.

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  • Jen9400 said...

    I remember it too Mike. As a matter of fact I remember they played really well together in preseason and were responsible for most of our PP goals which is why Sean got a chance to play with him on the first day of the season. Since any Avery success sent coach into a frenzy, that didn't last long as per usual. But as you say, that was then and this is now. Then we missed Avery but could still see his head popping out on the end of the bench and now we just plain old miss him. Speaking of missing, Prust had his first 3 point game last night. I think I said this before but the role his coach has given him is very similar to the role Sean played under Renney. Similar ice time too as Prust averages 16/17 mins now and Sean used to average about that under Renney. Two energy guys who can chip some in too.

    Anyway on to now. I couldn't be happier that Gaborik scored in OT. His confidence looks shot lately and that was a great lift for him. Hopefully he goes out there and kills it. The PP has improved recently even though the majority of the time they still look bad, they have managed to put some pucks in the net. Funny, ever since the coach decided to "leave it to the players" and "try to let them create" (his own words, not mine) they can suddenly score. Hmmm. I've been saying for a while that its obvious this coaching staff is clueless on PP and if they can't figure it out then why not ask the players. In my view it couldn't get any worse and look at that. It's better. One thing I want to see happen on the PP is leaving Gaby on the first unit. Before Brad went out of the line up Gaby was seeing limited time on unit 2. Now he is taking Brad's spot and he has a hand in every PP goal scored since. And don't worry Pundit, I wouldn't move Step off. Brad can start on the second unit when he comes back. Keep Gaby, Nash, Step and Callahan, our big PP scorer, as your four forwards. Having guys like Hagelin and Richards for a second unit isn't too shabby either. This team has so much offense. Its hard to believe our PP is still at only 14%. At least its increasing from 10%, so I will take it. BTW as Jeanine mentioned we were at the game on Tuesday vs the Flyers. That was one scary moment when Staal went down. Thank God he's going to be alright. At least the Rangers organization had a moment of weakness and decided to do something good for the fans by letting us know he's going to be ok even if it did take them almost 24 hours to give in and tell us something. I don't care how long he needs, as long as he makes a full recovery. I'm just glad to know.

  • jeanine1994 said...

    Step is playing great no doubt, he has really settled into his game now and is making a difference nightly, great to see. Nash is amazing, his power, his skating, the skill set this guy has is just, WOW! A true power forward, it makes me so happy to type those words because i love that type of player. He is a big game player and he is quickly becoming one of my favorite guys out there, he is fun to watch. Still think we played too cautious in some spots last night, once again the 2nd period was a bit sleepy, but overall it was a good game. Tonight Ottawa, always a tough game as they play us very well. Nash should help with his speed and strength and the Sens have lots of injuries. Should be a good one. Lets go Rangers!