The USA faced the Czech Republic today in an elimination game that seemed like a New York Rangers matchup. On the USA, we had Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, and Chris Kreider as current Rangers property. On the other side, the Czechs featured former Rangers Jaromir Jagr and Petr Prucha, who really speak for themselves in terms of who they are and what they did for this franchise, as well as former Rangers prospect Jan Marek, whose claims to fame are refusing to come over to North America and being involved in the trade that brought Sean Avery to New York. It was not at all a good game for the US, as Jaromir Jagr basically did whatever he wanted, scoring a hat trick. Ty Conklin was hardly impressive in net, and the USA simply couldn’t generate much offense. Although I’m not happy that the USA lost, it was really nice to see Jagr do what he does best. All of his goals were typical Jagr goals, and the blast from the circle on the PP really brought back memories. Lets look at the final statistics for our Rangers:
Derek Stepan- 7 games, 2 goals and 6 assists. Another international tournament where Stepan leads the USA in points. The one thing I didn’t think I saw enough from in the regular season from Stepan was his incredible playmaking ability. After watching the World Championships, I’m convinced he just simply didn’t have anyone to put the puck in the net. Blake Wheeler is a good fit for Stepan, as he is a big body and has a good wrist shot. I think putting Stepan at left wing with Gaborik and (hopefully) Richards would be lethal. The guy just knows how to set up players for goals and he can score some of his own.
Ryan McDonagh- 7 games, one assist, 2 PIM. Not a whole lot to say about McDonagh’s play, but that’s fine. He did the job expected of him, no better or worse. Hopefully the extra games don’t affect McDonagh going into next season.
Chris Kreider- 7 games, 2 goals , 1 assist. Stepan’s performance was the best out of these three, but Kreider’s was probably the most important, or relevant. This was our first chance to see Kreider in action against professionals, and I think he did a good job. Even against better competition, Kreider was almost always the fastest guy on the ice. The guy can straight up fly. We also saw him show the ability to put the puck in the net. It’s been pointed out that Kreider has performed better against tougher competition (two World Junior Championships and now this World Championships) than he does at BC. That really brings up the question of if he is wasting his time, if not stunting his growth, by playing at BC next year instead of signing a contract with the Rangers.
So that’s it for the USA. Stepan and McDonagh can go about their summers and get ready for next season, and we wait and see if Kreider decides to change his mind and sign with the Rangers. Jagr and the Czech Republic advance to play the Sweden, and we can debate if bringing Jagr back is a good idea despite the fact that he almost definitely isn’t signing in New York anyway.