The Rangers are on the cusp of the Stanley Cup for several reasons, but one of the main reasons is their team depth. Eight players currently have ten or more points in this years playoffs, while nine forwards currently average over fourteen minutes per game. However, among this depth is also a lingering problem; no player has truly emerged as the go-to guy on offense.
Martin St Louis has recently shown a consistency that the entire league has been accustomed to seeing from him for a decade, and when you factor in his tragic circumstances, his performance has been admirable. Meanwhile Chris Kreider has produced in bursts and is the only Ranger that is producing at a point per game rate (nine in ten, to date) but Kreider has been defensively erratic and has produced in bunches. Can he be relied upon to be THE difference maker?
If the Rangers do get past the Canadiens, at least one player from this apparent deep group of forwards will need to step up and produce game in, game out against either of the powerhouse Western Conference teams that are remaining.
The player the Rangers could turn to include Kreider, it could be St Louis or it could be a Derek Stepan or Rick Nash. But someone needs to take the initiative and give the Rangers a guy that can rival the Anze Kopitar’s and Jonathan Toews’ of the playoff world.
There are plenty of other candidates on the Rangers roster: Mats Zuccarello or Derick Brassard are also capable of winning games single-handedly. Of course, this is all without mentioning the merits of former Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards, who has flashed his undoubted but increasingly inconsistent game winning ability during the playoffs this year.
In Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers have the best goalie in the playoffs and the best goalie in the world. They do not need the most prolific offense, but they do need something beyond ‘mere’ depth. The Rangers need someone who can command the constant attention of the oppositions best defensive pairs and still impact games offensively.
What has been the Rangers calling card so far in the playoffs now needs to be just the tip of the iceberg if the Rangers are to get close to winning the Stanley Cup. The depth needs to step up and produce even more. It’s a big ask but no one said winning a Stanley Cup was easy."Rangers need someone to emerge from impressive team depth",