New York Rangers Who Must Improve When NHL Resumes Play
The Olympic Games are almost over, and that means the New York Rangers will be resuming NHL play. Prior to the deadline, the Blueshirts were one of the league's hottest teams, despite the fact that not every player was pulling his weight.
When NHL play resumes, players such as Derek Stepan will need to take things to the next level, or they could find themselves in a tough spot with head coach Alain Vigneault.
Here are the Rangers who need to get their act together once NHL play resumes.
*Stats via The Hockey News.
2013-14 to Date: 10-25-35 in 59 games played
Derek Stepan has not had a great season, and he entered the Olympic break on a five-game pointless streak. He is the Rangers' No. 1 center, but he's on pace to finish with only 49 points. His points-per-game average has dropped from 0.92 to 0.59, and he has been very vanilla.
If you take away last season's production, his drop is only 0.03 when judged against his 0.62 average in 2011-12, so it is still a comparable stat.
Stepan needs to pick up the pace once the NHL resumes action, because the Rangers are going to need more scoring as long as Mats Zuccarello is sidelined.
2013-14 to Date: 13-17-30 in 52 games played
Chris Kreider is having a solid "rookie" season, and he's showcasing the talent that was advertised when he was still a prospect at Boston College. Despite his success thus far, the Rangers need more out of the 23-year-old playoff wunderkind.
Kreider went into the Olympic break on a seven-game pointless streak, and his overall play has been lackluster as of late. The Rangers' 2009 draft choice has shown that he can be an effective NHL scorer, but he has to perform.
A strong performance in the second half could help put the Rangers in a secure playoff spot and could give Krieider a better chance to win the 2013-14 Calder Memorial Trophy as top rookie.
2013-14 to date: 11-13-24 in 42 games played
If Ryan Callahan wants to remain a Ranger or make a huge payday in free agency, he is going to have to pick up his game. Callahan has become a third-liner under Vigneault, and he isn't getting the power-play time he used to.
This has resulted in loss of minutes and points for the Rangers captain. Callahan is likely seeking a long-term contract worth upwards of $6 million a season, and that appears to be too rich for general manager Glen Sather.
The injury to Mats Zuccarello could cause the Blueshirts to hold on to Callahan because they need a winger to move up in the lineup. This could also force Sather to make a trade, but either way, Callahan needs to produce.
The clock is ticking, and Callahan could run out of time before you can tick off a New York minute.