Derek Stepan has come under much criticism from fans for holding out of training camp this offseason due to contract disputes with New York Rangers‘ GM Glen Sather. After getting a pay raise he has has followed it up with having arguably his worst season in his young NHL career. Only seven goals and 20 assists through 49 games so far this season is not something to brag about when talking about your first-line center. Not only that, but Stepan was also riding a 13-game goal scoring drought. However, that changed.
On Saturday afternoon in Ontario to face the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers would go on to win by a 4-1 score with the team’s No. 1 star being none other than Stepan.
Yes, Stepan scored a goal in the closing seconds of the 2nd period to extend a Rangers’ lead to 3-1 at that time and ended up finishing the game with a goal and two assists. Not only did Stepan finally put up numbers in Ottawa, but he looked the best he has all season by finding the open man and actually taking some shots on net, which he has been very hesitant to do lately, most likely from a loss of confidence during this 13 game goal-less drought.
Stepan is such an important part of this Rangers’ team and it is so key for him to start heating up as soon as possible since we are now in the second half of this 2013-14 NHL regular season. However, us fans have to remember that it was just one game and that Stepan has to continue to perform in order to let him off the hook for his poor first half of the season.