Archive for Derek Stepan
Dominic Moore became a fan favorite last year and continues to impress now in the 14/15 NHL season. On a team severely lacking depth down the middle of the ice, the Rangers have been able to tread water with Derek Stepan out thanks to the play of Moore. Averaging 12.08 TOI, Moore needed to step up and help out in a 3rd line role and he has done just that. Despite heavy defensive zone starts (-26.83 Off ZS% Rel) Moore has posted outstanding possession numbers at even strength (6.40 Fenwick Rel%). His impact has not gone unnoticed. Moore has received plenty of praise for his early season play but it’s worth looking at a little closer.
Moore is 20th in the NHL of forwards at 5v5 in FA/60 at 30.54 (Fenwick Against is a measure of defense, which looks at shot suppression. For more details click here.). The leader in this category is Colin Wilson of Nashville at 27.22. He ranks 25th in DZFO% in that category as well. So not only is Moore starting the majority of his shifts in the defensive end, but he’s able to suppress shots while generating shots for the Rangers (40.11 FF/60). Not bad at all for your 3rd line center. Moore’s faceoff% of 53.85 certainly has helped in the defensive end.
Per the Rangers Twitter, center Derek Stepan has been cleared for contact, and is wearing a normal colored jersey in practice today. Stepan has been out since the preseason with a broken fibula, and was eligible to return off LTIR today. While it is unlikely he is cleared to play tonight, he will likely be back in the lineup by this weekend.
There’s been quite a gap between the Rangers’ games this week, with the wild comeback against the Wild feeling like an eternity ago. Quite a bit has happened in Rangerland since so let’s take a look around at some of the goings on.
Veterans to the rescue
Derek Stepan and Dan Boyle resume skating. The Rangers cannot get these two players back fast enough. Stepan’s absence had destroyed team depth at center and the Rangers’ issues on defense have been well documented. With the Rangers powerplay needing help, Boyle and Stepan could be the perfect tonic to a unit that has been – at best – underwhelming to this point.
Is the Rangers goaltending pipeline improving?
The Rangers have tried to remedy the lack of depth behind Henrik Lundqvist recently and there’s a few intriguing prospects worth a keeping an eye on. Brandon Halverson typifies the modern goaltender, being a big man at 6’4, and he’s off to a strong start in junior winning 7 games in his first ten appearances although his peripherals (GAA 3.15, S% .904) aren’t exciting. Reports are he’s playing well though.
As Derek Stepan has finally hit the ice with his team mates (albeit in a non contact jersey) the questions will now begin to focus more on where rather than when will Stepan play. Following the excellent instant chemistry Rick Nash has shown with Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello the logical thinking will be to try and keep that trio in tact in the short term. Of course, given Nash’s not so pretty possession numbers perhaps Alain Vigneault will consider reuniting Stepan with the Rangers best and hottest forward.
Questions will be raised about Stepan’s match readiness. Will Stepan need to be eased back in? And can Nash be a spark for Stepan the way he appears to have been for Zuccarello and Brassard? The options for Stepan are numerous at this stage. With Stepan’s return almost certainly meaning the end of the Marty St Louis at center experiment, the chances are that Stepan will be paired with St Louis and Kreider, (finally) giving the Rangers two legitimate scoring lines for the first time this season.
Per Steve Zipay, coach Alain Vigneault noted that injured center Derek Stepan, who fractured his fibula in training camp, has seen no setbacks and will be all good to come off LTIR next week. Stepan is first eligible to come off LTIR on 11/3, and it appears he will be good to go at some point that week. I wouldn’t expect him to be good for the 11/3 game against St. Louis, but maybe Wednesday against Detroit at home or Saturday in Toronto.
Three losses in four games and 12 goals against in the first two home contests certainly isn’t how the Rangers wanted to start the season, but it’s not altogether unexpected. With No. 1 center Derek Stepan and No. 4 D Dan Boyle on the shelf, and a slew of raw youngsters in the lineup, it’s no surprise that the Blueshirts have been a dumpster fire in their own end. There are certainly very real causes for concern, but there is plenty of time to right the ship – just take a look back at how last season started.
So since it’s all gloom and doom in Ranger-land this morning, let’s check out some of the things that are going right for New York, many of which have come as pleasant surprises:
– Rick Nash has six goals in four games. That’s a pretty decent start, by any measure. The #fancystats crowd insisted Nash would bounce back after a horribly unlucky postseason, but this offensive explosion has eclipsed anyone’s wildest dreams. This confidence boost will be huge for Nash after he was forced to take a long look in the mirror last spring, and it could be the start of a monster year.
No one could have predicted that Martin St. Louis would end up being New York’s first-line center, or that 19-year-old Anthony Duclair would beat out a slew of veterans and near-NHL ready prospects for a top-nine spot to start the season. But St. Louis’ position change is only temporary, as Duclair’s stay in New York could be.
The first month of the 2014-2015 season will be about treading water in Derek Stepan’s absence, first and foremost, and determining if prospects like Duclair and Kevin Hayes deserve to stick. Read More→
The Rangers have formally announced that Ryan McDonagh will be the 27th captain in New York Rangers history. The Rangers were without a captain following the trade of Ryan Callahan and the buyout of (more or less) acting captain Brad Richards. Naming McDonagh captain was the worst kept secret in the organization, as it was widely expected this summer.
Thank you Bob Gainey, Scott Gomez, and all those involved in the Gomez for McDonagh swap.
Three cuts were made yesterday, as Matt Lombardi, Steve Kampfer, and Mike Kostka were all placed on waivers. There are more cuts coming today, as Alain Vigneault will need to trim the roster to 22-23 players. That number may or may not include Derek Stepan, who is out with a broken fibula.
There are two options for the Rangers with Stepan. They can put him on IR (out at least a week) and open up a roster spot, which is the very least they will do. They can also put him on LTIR, which means he will need to miss at least ten games or three weeks (whichever comes first). LTIR gives the Rangers cap flexibility, as they can go over the cap ceiling by the same amount of Stepan’s cap hit. This allows them to keep an extra skater.
That’s apparently what AV is looking to do, per Pat Leonard.
The Rangers are entering the home straight and the regular season is almost upon us. It’s a Thursday so let’s throw together some thoughts about the past few days in Rangerland.
Anthony Duclair. Everyone’s favourite Rangers’ prospect appears to be forcing the organisation’s hand into finding him a roster spot. 5 points, 3 goals in 3 games. Blazing speed, a wicked shot and respectable defense for a 19 year old rookie who, two weeks ago, wasn’t on anyone’s radar (for this season).
The thing is this: if he makes it, if he plays, he has to be on a scoring line to be effective. Is there an appropriate spot up for grabs and who suffers as a result? The most realistic scenario would be Mats Zuccarello slipping to the third line (also a productive line under coach Vigneault) but can the team justify pushing their top scoring forward of last year down to the third line for a 19 year old? It’s a great dilemma to have but also a major headache, potentially.
October 9th, at St Louis and then at the Blue Jackets two days later. Do the Rangers have the hardest opening two game set? A road trip to the big, physical Blues and Jackets? It gets physical quickly for the Rangers.