New York Rangers Led by Kreider and Stepan


Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan on Fire for the New York Rangers

The New York Rangers have scored 29 goals over their last eight games and even though they have gone 5-3 over this period of time, their offensive production is a positive sign. What surprises fans is not that their offense is clicking, it is the players who are producing these points.

Nash and Eric Staal have remained dormant since the trade deadline and even Derick Brassard, who ended March with an offensive surge, has also become a non-factor in the offensive zone. However, Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan have stepped up where Nash, Staal and Brass have fallen short.

Stepan has tallied six goals through eight games. He also has generated scoring opportunities for his teammates, which has earned him another eight points over the same period of time. This brings his scoring total to 14 points through eight games, which is rather impressive.

Derek Stepan
Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

Stepan has not been alone though, Chris Kreider has also helped pick up the slack. Kreider has recorded a total of eight points through his last six games. These points came off five goals and three assists.

The New York Rangers have also seen production from Zuccarello, but that is nothing new. Mats Zuccarello has recorded eight points over the Rangers last eight games. These points came from four goals and four assists.

The Rangers offensive production cannot ease up, if anything it needs to start heading into overdrive. After tonight’s game against the Islanders, the New York Rangers only have one remaining game on their regular season schedule before the playoffs. With that being said, no team wants to be involved in a playoff series in which every game ends in a 1-0 score. In order to keep that from happening, the Blueshirts offense, at the very minimum, needs to remain at a high level of play and their defense needs to wake up, with or without two starting defensemen.

The New York Rangers Defensive Situation

With the New York Rangers offense seeming to find its stride, the Blueshirts defense needs to work with what they have in order to give the team a chance tonight, and throughout the post-season.

The Rangers will dress Dan Boyle, Dylan McIlrath, Brady Skjei and Kevin Hayes tonight. Hayes will be replacing Lindberg on the third line. This means the third line will consist of Hayes, E. Stall and Jesper Fast, who have started to play well together.

On the other hand, Boyle, McIlrath and Skjei will share ice time, in an attempt to fill the void created by the injuries Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi sustained this past week. AV’s affliction with McIlrath riding the pine, while the very inconsistent veteran, Dan Boyle receives the majority of playing time, needs to end. McIlrath may be a rookie and with that comes mistakes, but Boyle is past his prime and it would be a mistake to rely on the elder to replace the talent of McDonagh and Girardi.

Even though Boyle may be the quick fix, McIlrath and Brady Skjei are the long term solutions. These last two games would give both rookies experience in “playoff-like atmospheres,” which may come in handy next week.

Time to Stop Hoping for a Loss and Begin to Back the Boys

This game is important to the Rangers and they want to win, even though fans may want them to take the road to the Cup through the Atlantic division. The New York Rangers have seemed to develop a mindset that has them prepping for and playing every game as if it were already the post-season. You can see this mentality as Keith Yandle spoke to the media after this morning’s skate,

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"“It’s up to all of us to pick up the slack with those guys out of the lineup. We’re going to miss Mac and G, so it will take a total team effort to get the job done tonight.”"

One player who has made it crystal clear that anything other than a win is a disappointment is Henrik Lundqvist. The King will be back in-between the pipes tonight to try and collect his 36th win of the year.

Henrik has been playing exceptionally well, despite his team hanging him out to dry almost every third period, and lately the first period too. He was able to fend off 66 of the 70 shots that have been fired at him during the New York Rangers back-to-back wins this past week.

One thing is certain, the Islanders will give Hank a run for his money tonight. A hot Islanders team has just beat the Lightning and Capitals and will look to defeat the Rangers tonight. If the Isles do win, they would complete their sweep of the Blueshirts and the two points would place them into third place over the Rangers.

Next: New York Rangers Staring Down their Kryptonite

Whether fans like it or not, the New York Rangers will be on a mission tonight. They want home ice throughout the first round of the playoffs. They want to win and could care less who is playing in the Atlantic.