May 28, 2012, 1:08 PM EST
21-year-old Derek Stepan has appeared in back-to-back playoffs and already has 25 postseason contests on his resume.
That said, he can’t be happy with how he’s played.
The Rangers forward went scoreless in last year’s playoffs and struggled again this year, scoring just one goal in 20 games. That included a no-goal, one-assist, minus-2 performance in six games against the Devils, something he clearly wasn’t happy with.
“I don’t think I was as sharp as I could’ve been in the conference finals,” he said during New York’s end-of-season media session. “I don’t know what it had to do with.”
Stepan has been a solid regular season contributor for the Rangers since breaking into the league, scoring 45 points as a rookie, 51 as a sophomore (finishing fourth on the team.) While young players often experience a dropoff in production come playoff time, the significance of Stepan’s disappearing act was heightened by the fact New York desperately needed him on board offensively.
While others also failed to show up (Marian Gaborik, Carl Hagelin,), the Rangers really needed more production down the middle after Brad Richards. Centers Brian Boyle and John Mitchell were mostly out there in a defensive/checking role, so the responsibility fell to Stepan.
It might seem harsh putting goat horns on a kid two years removed from the University of Wisconsin, but that’s the way the Rangers are built.
- Burke wants the Flames to be — yep, you guessed it — more ‘truculent’ 27
- Flames fire GM Jay Feaster 35
- Video: Projected rise in salary cap could have some players ‘licking their lips’ 15
- Discuss: Blackhawks score big on Rivalry Night on NBCSN 36
- Crosby: If I had to guess Thornton’s suspension, I’d say 10 games 77
- Cowen gets two-game suspension for hit on Girgensons 12
- Rangers must consider Callahan’s injury history in contract talks 13
- The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Outrage over hockey violence, Gary Bettman is a happy man, Darryl Sutter is awesome, and more! 33
- Report: Isles coach Capuano not seen as problem 11
- Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Flyers challenge top-ranked Blackhawks 18
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (182)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (156)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (138)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (132)
- Orpik suffers from concussion, including memory loss (118)