Early Grades for New York Rangers' Top Stars in 1st Round of NHL Playoffs

Jeremy Fuchs@@jaf78Correspondent IIIApril 22, 2014

Early Grades for New York Rangers' Top Stars in 1st Round of NHL Playoffs

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    Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    The New York Rangers are up 2-1 on the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the NHL playoffs. 

    Now that we're in the thick of the series, it's a good time to evaluate how the Rangers' top stars have done thus far.

    We'll give early grades for the Rangers' top stars so far in the first round of the NHL playoffs.

    Read on to learn more. 

Martin St. Louis: A

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    Martin St. Louis has been the Rangers' best player in the postseason.

    In three games, St. Louis has two goals and three assists. He's been impactful in every shift and has been successful on the penalty kill.

    He's a big-game player. Despite his regular-season struggles, St. Louis has proven to be successful when it's mattered most.

    It's impressive watching him control the play. He is a great puck-handler and an even better passer.

    As the postseason goes on, look for St. Louis to continue to put up points and make plays.

    Grade: A

Henrik Lundqvist: B+

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    Henrik Lundqvist has had two great games and one subpar game.

    In Game 1, Lundqvist stopped 14 of 15 shots, looking solid, albeit with minimal work.

    In Game 2, Lundqvist struggled a bit more, letting up three goals on 24 shots, although a few of those were deflected.

    In Game 3, he was back to his successful self with his best game of the series, stopping 31 of 32 shots.

    Obviously, the Rangers need Lundqvist to play like he did in Game 3. He's been giving up a number of rebounds—some of them quite juicy.

    But overall, Lundqvist has been pretty solid. He hasn't had to be tested too much, but it would not be shocking if he needs to steal a game in the remainder of the series.

    He could be better, but he also hasn't faced that much work.

    Grade: B+

Brad Richards: A-

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    Brad Richards has one goal and three assists in three games.

    He's been dynamic on the power play, effectively entering the rush, setting up just inside of the point and directing traffic and making fine passes.

    One issue, though, is that Richards has been pretty much nonexistent on defense. His lack of backchecking in Game 3 led to the Flyers goal.

    But Richards is certainly making up for it with his offense, as well as his leadership in the room.

    Grade: A-

Ryan McDonagh: C-

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    Scott Levy/Getty Images

    Ryan McDonagh has not been the same player this postseason. 

    He's a minus-three, looks shaky with the puck and is making way more mistakes than he usually does.

    Does it have to do with his shoulder injury? Possibly. If his shoulder isn't 100 percent, then it would follow that he would have trouble handling and passing the puck.

    Whatever it is, McDonagh needs to step it up. He has been the Rangers' best player all season, but this postseason has been quite the adventure for him. 

    Luckily, the Rangers have been able to weather McDonagh's struggles. But if he cannot improve his game, then it could be an interesting postseason for the Rangers stud. 

    Grade: C-

Rick Nash: B+

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    Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    Rick Nash has four assists in three games in the playoffs so far.

    That's already an improvement on last year, when he had five points in 12 games.

    Nash has done a good job of setting teammates up, but he would benefit from charging the net more. He started to do that more in Game 3, but he is at his best when he consistently attacks the slot. In Game 2, he did not do that at all.

    It seems like Nash is more comfortable in the postseason than he was last year. That's a good sign going forward.

    Nash played his best game in Game 3, but he did disappoint in Game 2. Nash is a streaky player in general, so it will be interesting to see how the next few games play out.  

    Because of his solid but not great play thus far, Nash gets an above-average score. 

    Grade: B+