Now that the Sochi 2014 Olympics have come to their end, and we start to prepare for the return of the NHL, most importantly New York Rangers hockey, there’s a point that I feel needs to be brought up. The first line on the team has totally disappeared, and if the Rangers hope to continue their recent rise to dominance the first line needs to make a return.
Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider are the three players who make up the Rangers first line. These three players combined have zero points in the last five games, which is absolutely unacceptable for a first line. One of the five most recent games ended in a 2-1 loss to a very weak Edmonton Oilers team. The only Rangers goal came from Derick Brassard. While I understand that the Rangers are not going to win every single game, the particular one I’m talking about could have been won if there was some production from the first line.
Rick Nash needs to come to play every single game, his salary is simply too large for him to take a break. While I understand he suffered a concussion at the beginning of this season, there is no reason he should be seventh on the roster in total points. Chris Kreider had an amazing start to the season, but has since been rendered almost useless, registering zero points in the last seven games and only three points in the last 12 games. Finally, when Derek Stepan held out at the beginning of the hockey year I hoped that this season would be a repeat of last, and that he would prove he was worth the money he held out for. Well he hasn’t proved that, he’s had a very slow season and has yet to put up a consistent point of offense.
Here’s another thing to consider, the Rangers top points scorer, Mats Zuccarello suffered a hand injury during the Olympics in Sochi and will be out for 3-4 weeks. If the Rangers want to make the playoffs somebody needs to make up for the void in the Rangers offense that was just opened by Zuccarello’s vacancy, and it should be the first line.
Currently, the Rangers are in second place in the metropolitan division and in total control of their own destiny, but in order for them to stay in that precious playoff spot, the top line needs to come to play every single game.