By Brandon Fitzpatrick @bfitzsports on March 28, 2014
When this season started there were no members of the New York Rangers playing well. They all looked like garbage and were in danger of becoming a laughingstock. But head coach Alain Vigneault and the players righted the ship, and the Rangers are now right in the thick of the playoff hunt as one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Here are five players who have stepped up this season and helped the Rangers turn it around.
After last season's playoffs, Derick Brassard was looking like a No. 2 center for the Rangers. Like everyone he got off to a rough start until he found chemistry with Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello. Since then Brassard has taken off and not looked back. He is fifth on the team in points with 41 and is tied for second with 17 goals.
Chris Kreider started the year in the AHL and many people were wondering if this kid was ever going to figure it out. Ever since he was called up it has been full steam ahead for Kreider. He has been a force in the top six all season long using his unique blend of size and speed. He is tied for second on the team in goals and is also second on the team in hits.
If it wasn't for Cam Talbot's heroics early in the season, the Rangers aren't even sniffing the playoffs right now. With Henrik Lundqvist struggling mightily early on, Talbot stepped up and won some huge games for the Rangers. He has started 17 games and posted an outstanding 1.76 goals against average.
As the smallest player on the team, Mats Zuccarello makes up for it with his heart. He fears no one and has the playmaking ability to be a top six forward in the NHL. He is tied for the team lead in points with 50 and has provided clutch goals all season long.
The Rangers haven't had a stud defenseman like Ryan McDonagh since Brian Leetch was patrolling the blue line at the Garden. McDonagh has already set career highs in points, assists and goals. He has developed into a Norris Trophy candidate and is the Rangers' best player by far. Oh, and I forgot to mention that he is only 25 years old.
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