Derek Stepan Really Needs To Step Up In Mats Zuccarello’s Absence For New York Rangers

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the news we all hoped would not come to fruition, has. New York Rangers‘ winger, and top point getter, Mats Zuccarello, who suffered a hand injury for Team Norway in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, does have a small non-dislocated fracture in his left hand. Originally, the extent of the injury was said to have only been a bruise, but with the intense swelling Zuccarello was suffering in his left hand–so bad that he could not even grip his hockey stick–everyone kind of figured there was more below the surface of Zuccarello’s hand injury.

Since Zuccarello’s left hand only has a small non-displaced fracture, he is not supposed to miss a lot of time when the NHL resumes play after the conclusion of the Sochi Winter Olympics. According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Zuccarello is only supposed to miss 7-10 days, which is good news, obviously.

However, with the 2013-14 NHL regular season coming to a close, and with the Rangers only one point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers for second place in the Metropolitan Division, any game Zuccarello misses could prove to be costly to the Rangers’ playoff chances.

Because of this, it is so important for a player like Derek Stepan, who is supposedly the Rangers’ No 1 center but has severely underachieved all season long, to step up his game out of the bowels of mediocrity and start scoring goals and racking up assists to not only help the Rangers’ loss of offensive production with no Zuccarello, but also help Stepan regain confidence in himself and live up to his contract.

If Stepan can get his game going, it would make weathering the storm of Zuccarello’s hopefully temporary loss a bit easier. If not, then the Rangers could find themselves on the outside looking in come playoff time, which in turn shows Glen Sather‘s failure to produce any type of depth on the Rangers’ roster every single season.

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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