The Rangers are rolling right now. They're skating hard, playing with emotion and relentlessly defending. The power play is clicking on all cylinders, while the penalty kill is keeping opponents at bay.
Players who were struggling the first three months of the season are now leading the team's renaissance. Every player that is, except for Derek Stepan.
While I expected some bumps due to missing almost all of camp because of his holdout, I thought Stepan would have figured it out by now. I mean, two goals in the last 26 games? Yuck.
I've said it before on the blog, but Stepan seems to be replicating what happened to Brad Richards last season. He began the year woefully unprepared and behind the eight ball physically, and now he's having a tough time catching up.
Amazingly, four months into the season, Stepan's timing still seems off. He's not taking advantage of the golden opportunities that have presented themselves nor is he generating offense for his wingers. And while Stepan has never been mistaken for Mike Gartner, it looks like he's skating in mud most nights. It's very easy to correlate Nash's lack of production to Stepan's struggles.
Stepan recently admitted to Larry Brooks of the New York Post that his hold out had a negative effect on him to start the season...
“The first 10 or 15 games, for sure it had an impact on me.”
So what can be done? How can Alain Vigneault get his default #1 center back to being the two-way threat he was last season?
Well, he needs to look no further than the motivational tactic that has worked wonders for Mats Zuccarello, Beniot Pouliot and to a lesser extent Michael Del Zotto...a healthy scratch.
All three of those players took advantage of their time in the press box to evaluate their game and make the proper adjustments.
While it's definitely easier for a head coach to sit secondary players, Vigneault really needs to make a drastic move here. The time for giving Stepan the freedom to play through his struggles is over. A serious message needs to be sent that his play is unacceptable. Yes, the Rangers have been much improved of late, but if they have any aspirations of being able to knock-off power houses such as the Penguins and the Bruins, Stepan needs to figure this out and figure it out now.
Every player reacts differently, but the result of the benchings of Stepan's teammates cannot be ignored. And starting tomorrow afternoon in Ottawa, Vigneault needs to find out if that strategy can also work if applied to Stepan.
Stepan is on pace for about 44 points this season. which is sub par for him. Cally and Nash after missing games due to injuries and are both putting up better PPG averages, as well as much better GPG averages. Stepan has had plenty of time to get out of a funk from missing pre-season and training camp, not sure what his problem is.
You can't break up the lines. Hags, Richards, and Cally line has been the best line for the last 2 weeks, The Brassard line has been very solid as well, so you don't want to break that line up either. Maybe though, take him off the PP unit, and put Cally in his place. PP has been very good, but it's really because of Zuccs unit.
Anyway, He is just going to have to play through it, imo. You can't scratch him.
Step is over-cookin my grits...kreids and nash are creating their own chances. Give them a center! god bless Dominic Moore
Maybe it's time to retire "Poopsalot". It was funny, but Benoit, with his recent play, has sort of earned the right to lose that moniker...lol.
AV is gonna let Step work his way out of his slump, as long as Step is giving the effort, which I think he is, and isn't that what a lot of us wanted in AV vs Torts' approach?
Step is just fighting through his game right now, but in no way is he a liability on the ice right now. (unlike DZ).
Yes. Step has slow foot speed and he's got slow hands/shot release, but he's a smart hockey player who rarely makes mistakes. Everyone is getting on him right now cause he's sub-par in his offensive stats.
If I were AV, I wouldn't bench Step, but I would take him off the PP, where he is somewhat a liability cause he's slow on the PP setup and rarely shoots the puck, which negates his effectiveness.
With that said, I would love to see Brass with Nash & Kreider, cause they looked great in the playoffs last year against BOS. But then again Brass is playing great right where he is, so why mess with that?
Why would you change the lineup if you are playing well? Doesn't make sense to me. While Stepan hasn't been scoring I don't think he has been playing poorly. It's not like he is Gaborik and one dimensional.
Stepan should be a healthy scratch. Tired of his mediocre play. If we want this team to go places certain players like Stepan need to up their game. Scratch Stepan, Call Up Haley. Ok...maybe not Haley but you get the point.
Am I missing something here. He is a playmaker who thinks pass first on a line with Kreider who has 12 goals (most on rangers) and Nash who is a 40 goal scorer in the past and has 11 this seasons. He on the line to set these players up not score.
sitting him right now with the way the team has been playing is a little drastic because if they do that and they lose everyone will be pissed why did AV mess with the line up when they finally are consistently playing good and hard…..that being said i agree something needs to get this kid going, he's too valuable for our team to not be producing on the top line
Scratch Stepan? This is beyond stupid. Incomprehensible. . Ok he's in a slump, but he contributes in so many other ways: He's one of the best defensive players in the entire league. Why not scratch Richards who only has five more goals and three more assists, but is a horrific defensive player...a lifetime minus player who can't forecheck and doesn't kill penalties. Doesn't defense matter? Kevin, I suggest you talk to the US Olympic Committee and ask them what they see in Stepan.
The guy has 2 goals in the last 30 games. That's unacceptable playing on the 1st line with Kreider and Nash.
He's in a slump. Probably the first one of his career. Let him work it out. The team is winning right now, I wouldn't mess with it.
I'd sit him but I hesitate to mess with the other lines. Let's say AV shifts players around and then we lose. People will call for his head saying why mess with what's been successful. Due to that hesitation, I keep riding Step on that line. He's soft, he seems slower than years past but that line has been generating scoring chances lately. Now ... if they were to sit him, I'd leave everything the way it is, call up Miller and let him center Nash and Kreider. Although the kid only has 4 pts on the season, that's due to the talent he's skated with. Besides ... he has some chemistry with Miller as they played on a line together in Hartford.
I would not scratch him, but take him off the PP though,and I would not break up the Richards line which has been our best line in the last 7 game. Scoring 6 Goals in that time frame, 5 on 5.
If not scratch him, bump him down to the 3rd line and move Zucs, Hags, or Cally up to the 1st line w/ nash n Kreider. Maybe if he works through his struggles against lower skilled lines of other teams, he can find his rhythm again and tear it up.
also right now Stepan is a secondary player. Because he had a season where he was a major factor doesn't mean that is what he is. He is no veteran that a coach should have a hard time sitting. he's a kid.
SIT HIM. I am sorry but for a guy Richards age I almost understood the idea that because he missed camp he was underprepared, and not in game shape. HOWEVER. I do believe that Stepan is only 22 years old. Not only should that not be an excuse, but as an athlete if you are holding out and missing training camp because of contract negotiations it is your personal responsibility to make sure that you are in as good, or even better shape then if you had been at that camp. Yes mentally not being involved is a big deal, but these guys are professionals. If you are arguing for more money you should be in tip top condition to help make the point that you deserve the cash. Maybe our expectations of Stepan are slightly elevated? He has realistically had one very good season. I hope he is the star we are hoping for but he has looked lazy and not very aggressive at all out there.
The most obvious thing to do is flip Richards and Stepan. Step has always played well with cally and Hags. Oh, and Step should fire his agent. He got really bad advice this summer.
Dude has looked really lazy as of late, especially on the back check… he can't still be out of game shape because he missed camp. It's in his head. He needs a wake up call and a reality check up in the skybridge with the rest of the press. This guy does NOT deserve a pas here. He cherry picks and puck watches away from the play too much IMHO. He needs to move his feet more. Scratch him.
Lazy ass play is the problem.Last year he had the same problem till Torts lit a fire under his derriere.He really is a 1st line player but doesn't have the desperate edge to his play that is required to reach that level.He has to reach the "always scramble desperately for the puck" mode to be effective at his game.
I think all of this is not right, I think Steps is more defensively mind since he was moved to line with def liability Nash and inexperienced Kraider, may be it's all made up, look at face offs, while wing are going up, Steps making triangle moving some back. I saw this multiple times
He looked good yesterday. The between-the-legs pass to Callahan was a beauty. And I don't even know who could replace him in the lineup. Do you really wanna see JT Miller up for the hundredth time when he has zero chance to remain in the lineup?
My only concern is what line combinations do you throw around in that event? I'm reluctant to split Zucc/Brass/Pouliot. That leaves:
Kreider - (Richards/Miller) - Nash
Cally - (Miller/Richards) - Hags
Zucc - Brass - Pouliot
Boyle - Moore - Carcillo
Trade his ass...... He is acting like he is having a bad yr and its a fluke
that guy has never had a good yr let alone a great ur excluding last yr
He can stop the charade. ... u think he would have learned. The same shit happen to dubi
Agreed. Take him off pp but don't replace with brass as his line is clicking. Tough call as you can put cally there but then u only have richy left for face offs.
Stepan isn't plating well and he is dragging down the line.....
That the top line u gotta get them going to be seriously have a chance to make the playoffs
@cb1That's fair. I just feel like he's been given the last 48 games to work it out and it doesn't seem to be working.
Reminds me of Bobby bonilla.... can hit had the tools but was lazy as shit didn't amount to anything but come in and collect a pay check
Nash plays on the 3rd line as a shut down line ..... for Team Canada.. so saying he is play defensive. Is a reach. .. His top goals in a yr are 21 and assists were 34. In a full season not the same season.... Top points was 51......
The guy is over rated. No passion or heart. Plays lazy most times. ...He s gotta go
Agreed. He doesn't check and in my opinion has a lazy look to his play. I'd definitely would explore trade market with him. Miller can replace him right now.
@mando24179did Stepan run over your dog?
He needs to be held accountable. ...As every other player. He is not above anyone else or is a superstar in any instance....He needs to be sat out not for a game but for a few games...
Until he decides. . To come to work and play harder than he ever has and not just to collect a check.... but to be honest he has always been inconsistent. .. Shows up a couple of games a then disappears. ..for 10..
New contract for short term.... potential in the eyes of other GM. Packaged with someone can net us a play making number one center (Oreilly)
Doesn't matter how Nash supposed to play in team Canada, look what he does in defense end in our team, he is invisible there, my observation could be wrong, but this is looks like setup role for Steps
I'm tired of losing and it's unacceptable. ... he's a lazy holding out unproductive inconsistent. .... SOB.... i want players that play. Aren't scared. ...We have to many of those now..... and yeah they are part of the core we have here exclude. McD. Zucc Cally Nash (he defend that peice of shit Stepan
Right after coming back from the concussion. And Stepan just skated away) Jmoore.... Pouliot. Even playing physical. Dorsett. Carcillo. Miclrath. Brassard. HALEY. AND MY boy Kreider
the rest are non confrontational. ... shy away....This is Hockey. We pay and buy their merchandise... We deserve a better product and players that would go through a wall for us. Not wuss away like a bunch of batches
Warrior like Prust......We gotta be like the Yankees. It's all about championships. ... anything else is a failure...
We have a #2 Brassard... who is capable. I say we see what we can get....see what he is worth and what we can get back. If it's Oreilly..... ...or someone of that call abet then do the deal... If not. He better take some Arod gummy bears.... Cause we are screwed
Dude i have played hockey. And worked my ass off....first one in last one out
I have also coached hockey...... i am not a guy that sits in a seat as just a fan....
That guy has regressed and is playing soft....He is out worked and out played
5 yrs ago he would battle...but when he didnt stand up when Gabby was getting pounded on by Carcillo... and did nothing... that was the beginning of the end and he has continued to play in that fashion....
@mando24179 Mando, i really don't know what you're watching out there.
@mando24179 Nash playing third line shutdown for Team Canada is his role there. His roll on the Rangers is to score goals and be the ultimate offensive threat. Which isn't to say he doesn't know how to play D — it's just not where he's expending his energy.