The Rangers have a bit of a Mika Zibanejad problem right now

The NY Rangers can’t get out of their own way. After storming out to a 2-0 series lead, they fell back on old habits in Game 3, an overtime loss. Then they didn’t show up in Game 4. Then they didn’t show up in Game 5. Now they are down 3-2 to the Devils, who had the 3rd best record in the NHL. They have come back from something like this before, but who will step up for the Rangers? It has to be a star, since most have been invisible since Game 3.

There’s only so much one fight can do. Credit to Barclay Goodrow for trying, and despite what many say about his contract, this lack of effort is not on him. The Rangers have essentially quit on themselves, the fans, and the coaching staff. Now they need at least one player to break them out of this funk and wallowing in their own self pity.

The best candidates to step up are the two players who are on milk cartons. Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad have been invisible all series. As the two highest paid forwards, expectations are there. As the two leading scorers on the team, and the only two players to eclipse a point per game on the Rangers, their absence is felt. While Zibanejad has essentially taken Nico Hischier’s offense out of the game, Panarin has done nothing on the ice.

If it’s not that duo, and to be fair, it should be, then the only other real option is Chris Kreider. Mr. Big Game Clutch himself, Kreider is always at the center of big goals for the Rangers in the playoffs. If you look at any highlight video, Kreider is scoring a big goal. Since it looks like Zibanejad and Panarin are ready for golf season, Kreider is the guy they may turn to.

Or perhaps it’ll be the Kid Line, the only line that can generate consistent offense against the Devils this series. They are due to break through for a big game, the way they did against Tampa last year. Since we can’t necessarily rely on the stars anymore, the kids are a good bet to step up. That of course, is assuming the Rangers don’t mail it in for Game 6 as well.

Maybe the fourth line will generate some offense? They are at least doing their jobs, allowing just one goal while on the ice this series. But stepping up is going above and beyond. Jimmy Vesey is the guy I’d look to here. But the fourth line is the least of their concerns, and if we are relying on them to step up, then the series is over.

The only thing we do know is someone, anyone, needs to step up and get the Rangers out of their funk. At this rate, falling behind 1-0 feels like doom. The fans know it, and it’s because of the way the Rangers have responded the last two games when down a goal. They just roll over and die. For a so called super team, they are too fragile to make a run.

That needs to change. Every championship team faces adversity and elimination throughout their runs. This is no different, just earlier than we might have wanted. Someone needs to step up. As for who it will be, your guess is as good as mine.


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