Derek Stepan is Skating on the First Line for the New York Rangers

By Johnny Machurek

Brandon Dubinsky had been skating on the first line for the New York Rangers through the first two games, but for coach John Tortorella it was time for a change.  It seems that two games was long enough to evaluate that Dubi should be off the first line and Derek Stepan should be on.

Adding Stepan to the first line would give the Rangers the chance for a big point producer; the combo would be Stepan-Brad RichardsMarian Gaborik.  Also, it should be interesting to see how Stepan will play at wing this year opposed to last year where he tallied 45 points at center.

“It’s a great opportunity.  I mean I already get the chance to be a (locker room) stall-mate of (Richards) and get to learn from him off the ice, but to be able to play with him, I would just try and be like a sponge and soak up everything I can,” Stepan stated.  “And obviously with Gaby, the amount of talent that guy has, there’s always something I can be learning from him, too.”

Stepan stated he is not going to try to force anything to make the line work; if it is meant to be it will be.  “You don’t need to rush it or force it.  If it is meant to be, it’ll work.  I’m not going out there thinking that Torts is going to be switching lines or whatever,” Stepan said.  “I’m just trying to play with them and create something, trying not to force things or put too much pressure on it.

With Dubinsky dropping down it reunites him with his old linemates Artem Anisimov and Ryan Callahan.  This should have been how the top two lines looked out of the gate and I think Torts realized this quickly.
This line will have a couple days to try to work out some kinks as the Rangers will not be in action until Saturday night.
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