Rangers’ resurgence won’t last long if top forwards don’t start producing

December 26, 2013, by

The Rangers need much more from Derek Stepan

The Rangers were able to salvage their franchise-record homestand with wins over Minnesota and Toronto, but things still need to change if the Blueshirts are going to turn their season around.

New York’s 27th-ranked offense has been carried by the likes of Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider and Benoit Pouliot over the last two weeks, while the team’s top players continue to struggle.  Rick Nash hasn’t scored in any of his last six games, and has just one goal in his last nine.  Brad Richards hasn’t scored in eight games and Derek Stepan has just three goals in his last 23 games.  Not coincidentally, those cold streaks have coincided with the team’s worst stretch of the season.

To be a true contender, you have to get secondary scoring.  That hasn’t been an issue of late for the Blueshirts the way it has been in the past, but the team’s top offensive weapons haven’t been producing nearly enough.  Nash, Stepan, Richards and Ryan Callahan (once he returns) need to carry the offensive load for the team on a night in and night out basis, while any contributions from the likes of Pouliot and Carl Hagelin are gravy.

Zuccarello, Kreider and Derick Brassard have all picked up their play, but those three guys shouldn’t be the top offensive options for any playoff team.  They’re very strong supporting players, but that’s all.

Just look at the Bruins and the Blackhawks, two of the league’s model franchises.  Boston’s fourth line has given the Rangers fits, but the Bruins absolutely need David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson to carry them offensively.  Chicago is blessed with extraordinary depth, but even the mighty Blackhawks would struggle if Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp weren’t producing.

The best teams in the league get offensive contributions from up and down their lineups, but they can almost always count on their most talented scorers to chip in consistently.  New York hasn’t gotten that all year, and though we’ve seen plenty of encouraging signs over the last week, this mini turnaround will be short-lived if the Blueshirts’ top forwards don’t start putting the puck in the net.


  1. @Centerman21 says:

    For Rick Nash to have this kind of drought is what’s killing the team.

  2. Walt says:

    Lets see how things go now that Miller is up again! If BR can’t do what is needed most from him, scoring, then when Callie gets well, sit BR.

    I’d really like to see if the Kristo kid is for real. They should bring him up for a game, or two, and see what he does in the show. Another kid that should be brought along is the Beach kid, as suggested by 21, sit D Moore for a while, he has a scoring touch, and is gritty!!

    • Dave says:

      The issue isn’t Richards. I’d venture a guess that Pouliot, despite his recent strong play, sits when Cally gets back. Of course, Miller needs to continue his strong play for this to even be a discussion.

      Kristo isn’t ready. He’s a 1 zone guy right now.

      • scrangersfan says:

        Walt is correct.Richards have been terrible and he should be the one sitting in the press box. He does not play like he is an elite player as his salary indicates. Now I’m more convinced then ever that he should be bought out at the end of the season. The bum has got to go!

    • Dave says:

      Beach isn’t a prospect. He has zero reliable scoring ability. No NHL games, no 20 goal seasons in the AHL. He’s an AHL depth guy.

  3. SalMerc says:

    It is all about the full team effort. Sure I want Nash and Stepan to step it up, but every line needs to dominate in the O zone and good things will happen.

  4. BobM says:

    So how is this up-tempo new offensive system working out for you? Pretty offensive, eh?

    In the past, wee had a stingy defense and great goaltending, and won those close games, but little offense. With basically the same team, we now have horrible defense, shaky goaltending, we win half the games and have little to no offense. Only Kreider is a positive in plus minus. Changing this team into an offensive weapon is like hammering a square peg into a round hole. We blamed Torts for being stubborn, but AV refuses to change his system to suit the players that he has on hand at this moment. His system MAY work with the right parts, but that MAY come later if and when changes are made. For the time being, they should revert to the old system. If that doesn’t work either, clean house.

    • Dave L says:

      While Torts was stubborn about the system, he went because he had lost the trust and faith of the players. Notice how Lundquist was non-committal about coming back after the season? That changed after Torts was canned.

  5. AD says:

    Richards, if anything, will see his production decline. We shouldn’t anticipate anything more from him going forward. Stepan has been very average, along with Nash; put them both on a 3rd line until they get their gears going.

  6. Frank Cerbone says:

    Nash with 3 hits in 21 gms has redefined the meaning of the word “soft”

    Hagelin leads Rangers with 3 gm winning goals & Kreider has ZERO.

    Staal needs to go; last season I said trade him a year early rather than a year too late. Injured for the 3rd yr in a row, do we now wait for Staal to have no trade value before we move him?

    At end of season do we amnesty Richards, Nash, or Lundquist?

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Richards. End of discush…

    • Kevin says:

      3 hits in 21 games is actually really good for offensive players

      GWGs are quite subjective and have no real meaning behind it

      and that last part…just…what?

  7. Rangersfan says:

    With the captain out, its been hurting the line-up big time. Callahan has the highest GPG(Goal per Game) Average on the team, he is on the IR now, hopefully will be back in a couple of weeks. Not trying to give anyone a pass but he has been dealing with multiple injuries but still puts up the goals, imagine a 100 percent Cally back in the line-up? That should hopefully make the difference.

  8. Lou says:

    Nash needs a tough-nosed winger cause he’s playing scared.

    Stepan cant put a lick on a stamp and has turned a promising career into another version of the invisible man.

    Nash is not a 1st line player cause he doesnt create — he is a scorer that needs others to do the grunt work and feed him an empty net shot.

    Stepan is at best a 3rd line center and a significant disappointment —cant win a faceoff, doesnt play exceptional defense, doesnt really score…and worst of all, looks like he doesnt have any blood running thru him. He should have picked curling as his sport instead. To me, he is the essence of the Rangers this year —no balls, no grit, limited effort and a not a scratch on him!

  9. bernmeister says:

    Wrong about Kreider.
    It’s too much to ask him to do a Malkin and singlehandedly carry the club on his back.

    But he is a bonafide top offensive option.