After making a big stink in the offseason about accepting the two-year bridge deal Rangers GM Glen Sather was only willing to give him, while he wanted a long term deal, and then continued to make a stink over the amount of money he was getting, all while holding out of training camp, has proven to all of us that not only is he not worth a long term deal, but maybe should not have even received a two-year bridge deal.
The Rangers have now played 48 games, which is the same amount as last year’s lockout shortened season, and in 48 regular season games last season, Stepan recorded 18 goals and 26 assists, while this season through 48 games has only seven goals and 20 assists.
Not only are his stats lower than last season, especially in the goal scoring column, but also his effort, which is inexcusable.
Despite the 2-1 loss on Tuesday to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Rangers have been playing better and are 8-3-1 in their last 12 games. In those 12 games every single player on the roster looks as if they are putting forth extra effort and heart. That is every single player with the exception of Stepan.
Every Ranger except Stepan seems to be skating faster, making quick decisions with the puck, making crisp passes, taking more shots from multiple angles and trying their hardest to do whatever it takes to win the game. Now, I am not saying Stepan does not want to win, but right now he is the odd man standing out in the crowd, and not in a good way. He is skating extremely slow, turning the puck over and seems like he never wants to shoot the puck.
For the supposed future first-line center for the Rangers, Stepan has been playing most of this season like a third-line center and that is just unacceptable, especially for a Rangers team who struggles offensively. Stepan needs to and must get his act together as soon as possible, as we are now in the second half of the 2013-14 season.