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The mystery of Derek Stepan

Derek Stepan has been a bit of a revelation for the Rangers. The first homegrown prospect that came in as a legitimate offensive threat, Stepan has dazzled many with his tremendous first two seasons in New York. He has played a full 164 games in those two seasons, and has put together a very nice line of 38-58-96. He has been better than expected over the course of the regular season. But it’s the playoffs that have many worrying.

In nine playoff games thus far, Stepan has failed to record a point. Even worse, Stepan has barely been noticeable. Anton Stralman has usurped control of his spot on the point on the powerplay, and Stepan has even seen time on the fourth line this series.

Stepan is scoreless in his last nine contests, and has just four goals since March 1. This could be written off as a rough patch, but the problem is that this happened to Stepan last season as well. In the final month of last season and the first round of the playoffs, Stepan again only record four goals. If last season was a result of the proverbial NCAA wall, then what is this season?

Looking deeper into the numbers, Stepan may be a bit invisible this postseason, but he’s not exactly “useless” as so many people are saying. This postseason, Stepan has been facing the second highest quality of competition among the forwards (Qualcomp of .370*). Despite facing higher quality of competition, Stepan still maintains a high RCorsi (puck possession metric) of 14.6*. While not the best on the team, it is still a high positive number, which means Stepan and his linemates have had the puck more often than the opponent.

*- Small sample sizes

Both his Qualcomp and RCorsi are up significantly from the last postseason. Stepan is improving, even if we don’t necessarily see it on the scoreboard. So if his metrics are good, why the scoring issue?

Part of the problem has to do with shots. Stepan has just seven shots on goal this postseason, an average of just over one per game. In the regular season, he had 169 shots over 82 games, an average of just over two shots per game. So Stepan is actually shooting half as much in the postseason. The problem was the same last postseason, where Stepan took just four shots in five games.

For some unknown reason, Stepan just isn’t shooting the puck, and that is likely the key reason why he has been invisible in the playoffs. It is probably just a case of thinking too much, as many young players do in the playoffs. His hesitance to shoot may also be why John Tortorella removed him from the powerplay.

This issue of not shooting isn’t just limited to Stepan (only two players have double digit shot totals), but it seems to have a greater effect on the young center. Stepan needs to shoot to be effective. The good thing is that this is a correctable issue, he just needs to start firing the puck at the net. As we’ve seen in this series, good things happen when the pucks go on net. It’s a lesson Stepan –and the rest of his teammates– need to learn very quickly.

16 Responses to “The mystery of Derek Stepan”

  1. JimBob says:

    Its been said that statistics can say anything, well in this case our writer needs a math primer. Seven shots in four games is 1.75 shots /game. That is “averaging just under 2 shots/game” NOT just over 1 shot/game. But if you are trying to write something, I guess facts are irrelevant.

    • Bobby Tux says:

      agree you cannot get real facts correct like this. I know why you defend DUMBINSKY. You cannot see the facts.

      So like everything. Performing at your level not only requirs being at that level but having confidence and mojo. By mixing and matching lines Torts is a mojo chemists. Sometimes it pans out and others it does not. Seems like the game 4 experiment did not gel.

      If it were up to me. I would revert to as many combinations as possible from the end of the season that worked and simply substitute Krieder for Hagelin onthe top line. Tell him to watch the Hagelin highlight reel and find some BC footage of Kreider doing the same thing and unleash him.

      Kreider Richards Gabi
      Stepan AA Cally
      Boyle Prust Feds
      DUMBINSKY Rupp Mitchell

      With a lead in the 3rd possibly move Mitchell or Dumbinsky to the top line.

      Pp

      Gabi Cally richard mdz Stralman
      Stepan AA Boyle garadi McD

      Torts needs to remind himself the KISS principle. Keep Ir Simple Stupid. The players also need to apply KISS. Shot the puck!

      • Bobby Tuxxx says:

        Every day I have the same routine. I wake up. I come to this site and say the same thing over and over about Dubi and then I go stick needles in my Dubi Doll.

        Now I know this post is about Stepan, but I want to make sure everyone understands that Dubi should be on the fourth line until he sends me a lock of his hair.

        Thank you, you guys are my best friends?

        • Walt says:

          Bobby
          Your daily busting on Dubi is old stuff. If you get a kick out of it, so be it, but I for one believe that he has contributed to this team in many ways. Just look at game two when he was tossed, how much we missed him on the defensive side of the game. If you get off on letting the world know how much you hate Dubi, OK, we know already!

        • Jess says:

          I see your nonsense as just that nonsense because quite frankly it is a rather pathetic attempt to get some attention.

          If you want to hate on Dubinsky then why not start your own blog where you can post away about him.

          Congrats you got some attention as we can think of you as a selfish self centered immature child who isn’t intelligent enough to realize that the rest of us are laughing AT YOU rather than with you.

          Have a nice day

  2. Walt says:

    As fans, how many times have we all screemed “Shoot the effing puck”?

    That is problem number 1, but not just for Step, but for everyone. Problem #2, Step is too small, not in hight, but around the upper body, and isn’t involved physically. He needs to bulk up some more this off season. We also have to realize that he is still a kid, and like every forward on the team, has had way too many linemates! After an entire season, one would think that Torts would settle on set lines, but that isn’t the case. I’m not making excusses for the Stepan kid, but the pressure of the play-offs, the uncertainity of your linemates, the speed, and physicality of the time of the year, Step has to make adjustments, and perform.

    As to the lines, move the Kreider kid up to Hag’s slot, and leave the rest the same. Why would you want to rearrange every line, then we are back to the point I was trying to make earlier in this post. No one will be really comfortable when you do that. It took some time for Gabbi, and Richards to develope chemistry, and Torts is spliting them up, what the eff?

  3. Zen says:

    I am also mystified by Stepan. The kid has been a big-game player at every level he has played, so we know the playoff setting is not too ‘big’ for him. What is interesting is that this sane thing happened to Step last year at the end of the season. Basically, he hit the proverbial wall in his rookie campaign. Though not a common thing to occur after a rookie season, you wonder if it has happened again, because he looks like he is playing physically and mentally tired.

    But then again, one could say that Dubi plays mentally tired all the time. Lol

    • Walt says:

      Zen

      That’s why I said the kid needs to build himself up in the gym in the off season, he gets worned out by this time of the year!

  4. Pete says:

    Its the kids second playoff series and 9th playoff game, wtf, relax people. He’s still progressing, very nicely I might add, and having a legitimate scoring winger would do wonders for him. Anyone else notice his production has went down since he was taken off the 1st line? Yeah, probably just a coincidence…

    Fact of the matter is that one game winning goal and all of this is moot point, or game tying, whatever.

    The team plays a tight game because of the lack of skill, aside from Gabs who’s a real scoring threat that the opposition has to “plan” for? Nobody, that why they were going after Nash.

    The team is good, just not great. It could be great if secondary scoring/skill is added. The good news is that they play hard, which is about all you can ask, and love to see, from a team. LGR!

  5. Chris F says:

    Haters gonna hate.

    Bobby, you want a whipping boy? Why not Fedotenko?

  6. Steven T says:

    It is four games into the playoffs. Stepan and Dubi may be struggling but why does that mean we need to hate on them. If the Rangers win two more games this series, will we truly care if some1 didn’t score. No, give them time. If they can’t produce during the real crunch time (i.e the next few games), then it is time to call them out. Otherwise, give ppl time

  7. Chris F says:

    Torres suspended 25 games for his hit on Hossa…

    I really don’t understand what is wrong with this League.

    • Walt says:

      Chris

      If the NHL really wanted to stop the headhunting, here is someting to think about!

      If a player hurts, or gives a guy a concussion, whatever time is lost by the hurt player, the guys that did the dirty hitting sits with him, and of course without pay! This way scumbags like Cooke on the Pens would be out with Marc Savard, this my friend would stop the crap immediatly!!!!!

      • The Suit says:

        Yet Malkin gets zero for his elbow to the head of Grossman, who’s missed games for the Flyers

        • Walt says:

          That only proves what Torts was ranting about, and paid 30K for speaking the truth!

  8. Bill from Brookhaven says:

    Why no mention of that slug Anisimov who falls down every shift,doesn’t forecheck,backcheck or finish a check.When Hags returns this clown shoud ride the pine.