Last season, Derek Stepan put together his best year as a pro player. He led the New York Rangers in scoring and was easily their most consistent player. He evolved into the team’s No. 1 center and was expected to have a huge 2013-14 season. But after a lengthy contract dispute, it has been hard for Stepan to find any consistency with his game. After his performance today against the Ottawa Senators, it is clear Stepan’s slump is coming to an end.
Stepan had gone 14 games without scoring a goal before snapping one by Senators goalie Craig Anderson at the end of the second period. He also assisted on two other goals the Rangers scored in their 3-1 win. The first assist to Brad Richards was a beautiful cross-ice pass on the power play, and the second to Rick Nash was a great area pass of the glass.
Recently Stepan has been passing up opportunities to shoot. When he was shooting, he was either missing the net high or getting stoned by opposing goalies. Stepan couldn’t buy a goal whatsoever, but snapping this streak will be big for Stepan’s confidence. He was surprisingly named to the U.S. Olympic team which was supposed to snap him out of this slump a little sooner than expected.
The Rangers are going to need Stepan to get himself to the level he was playing at last season when he was easily their best player. The Rangers have been surging even with with Stepan playing poorly. Just imagine how well this team could be if he starts playing at a high level.