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5 New York Rangers That Must Up Their Game For Team To Succeed In 2013-14

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5 New York Rangers That Must Up Their Game In 2013-14

5 New York Rangers That Must Up Their Game For Team To Succeed This 2013-14 Season
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have played four games so far this season and outside of their second game of the year, it is safe to say that they have been an utter disaster.

After dropping their opener in Arizona against the Phoenix Coyotes, 4-1, the Rangers went to L.A. to face the Los Angeles Kings and won 3-1. All looked to be fine, but then the two following games at the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks were completely and absolutely atrocious, with the team losing 9-2 and 6-0.

The biggest reason for these back-to-back massacres was the severe lack of effort. This is purely unacceptable.

Some make the excuse that it is head coach Alain Vigneault's fault because in his system he has the defensemen playing a more man-to-man style of defense, and all of the Rangers' defensemen are used to playing a zone defense. While I understand that should take some time to adjust to, what I don't understand is how an NHL team can look like they could lose to a skilled pee-wee team.

Disgusting is the best word to describe the Rangers right now. In this very early season, they have already become a laughingstock around the league and fans all over the globe.

If something does not change soon, then this will be an extremely long season where the Rangers will be fighting for the first overall pick in next year's draft. If they do decide to turn things around, then these are the top five players that must up their game.

Steven Carollo is a New York Rangers’ and sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, add him on Facebook, connect with him on LinkedIn and join his Google network.

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5. Derick Brassard

Derick Brassard
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

After a preseason where he was the best Rangers' forward on the ice, Derick Brassard, like most of the Rangers, has stumbled out of the gate and through the first four games has recorded no goals and one assist.

Brassard is the teams' no. 2 center and showed us last season and in the preseason that he has great vision on the ice and has ability to be a playmaker. The Rangers need that Brassard to show up quickly if they want to go anywhere this season.

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4. Derek Stepan

Derek Stepan
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Is this the same Derek Stepan who wanted a long-term contract with the Rangers and held out of training camp because of it?

So far, Stepan has put up no goals and three assists, and while he is more known for his passing, he will need to score goals, and big ones, if this team wants to turn things around this season. Not to mention, if he wants a long-term contract two years from now when he is a free agent again.

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3. Henrik Lundqvist

Henrik Lundqvist
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Never in my life did I ever think this man would be mentioned in an article of mine about players needing to up their game.

Henrik Lundqvist is arguably one of the best competitors in the NHL today, and while you can blame the Rangers' defense for most of the goals he has given up this season, Lundqvist has not looked himself out there and has given up a good number of soft goals. I don't know if it is the new pads, his current contract expiring at the end of this season with no new deal, or that his heart is just not with the Rangers anymore, but there is no excuse for him to look like a zombie out there like the rest of the team.

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2. Dan Girardi

Dan Girardi
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Girardi is a defensive defenseman. His offensive numbers will never be there, but when his defense isn't there either, then we have a problem.

So far through the first four games of the season, Girardi has been noticeable, but not in a good way. The defensive lapses and mistakes he and most of the Rangers' defensemen have made are inexcusable and has to be corrected fast in order to give Lundqvist some confidence back and to win games.

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1. Michael Del Zotto

Michael Del Zotto
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Whether you think it is fair or not, Michael Del Zotto receives tons of criticism among fans and right now I feel it is justified.

His defensive positioning and awareness is so poor for a defenseman who has been in the league as long as he has, regardless of him only being 23-years old. We all know by now Del Zotto is not going to improve much defensively, but is supposed improve a lot offensively since he is an offensive defenseman playing in Vigneault's offensive system. So far, that new offensive system has brought Del Zotto's numbers up to no goals and no assists through the first four games, and has done far more bad then good. The Rangers' overall defense must get better if they want to succeed this season, but that especially goes for Del Zotto.

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