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The New York Rangers' top line is a makeshift line that has provided a major spark down the final stretch of the season. Makeshift because everyone predicted Richards and Gaborik to be linemates at the start of the season. But that was quickly derailed by a lack of trust by Coach Tortorella.
The addition of Carl Hagelin, the NHL's fastest skater, has provided even more firepower to the first line. Now, as the regular season winds to a close and offense is hard to come by for the Rangers, the top line has been carrying the team of late and will need to continue if the Rangers are to have playoff success.
Marian Gaborik (38 goals, 31 assists) has 69 points in 76 games this season and is looking to complete his second 40-goal season out of his three in a Rangers uniform. Gaborik has 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) in his last 10 games, a large part the result of Richards' passing.
Brad Richards (24 goals, 36 assists) has 60 points in 76 games this season. While statistically this is one of Richards' worst seasons, the impact he has on the Rangers cannot be overlooked. Richards is a proven winner who provides faceoff reliability, pinpoint passing and two-way play. He has come on strong of late with 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in his last 10 games. These are points the Rangers will need to count on come playoff time.
In just his first NHL season, Carl Hagelin (14 goals, 23 assists) has 37 points and is a plus-22. Few, if any, saw this production or perhaps even roster spot coming before the season. There is no doubt Hagelin opens up the playbook for the Rangers with his speed and skating ability. The addition of shooting the puck to the other end and letting Hagelin beat the defender has lead to multiple goals for the Rangers. Teams will struggle against his fresh legs and speed in the grind of the playoffs.
The combination of these three players is a force to be reckoned with and can compare to any top line in the league right now. Look for this line to continue its dominance amidst a lengthy playoff run.