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Players Who Must Step Up for New York Rangers to Come Back in Stanley Cup Final

Jeremy FuchsCorrespondent IIIJune 9, 2014

Players Who Must Step Up for New York Rangers to Come Back in Stanley Cup Final

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    The New York Rangers find themselves in a 2-0 hole against the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final.

    They haven't played poorly: They've scored the first goal in both games and have had multiple two-goal leads.

    However, they just haven't been able to close games.

    While many of those on the roster have played well, there are a few in particular who need to step up in order for the Rangers to come back in this series.

    Which players need to step up?

    Read on to find out. 

Brad Richards

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Brad Richards is getting shots, but they're not going in. Worse, he's been awful defensively.

    Richards has had six shots, including a glorious chance in Game 2 that he failed to convert. He was also a horrid minus-three on the night, including a turnover in his own end that led to a Kings goal.

    He's the quarterback of a power play that has been just one-for-eight in this series. The lone goal was scored off the rush, not when they were set up. Richards has not been able to carry the puck in and set up in the offensive zone.

    It is possible that the speed of this series might be a bit much for the 34-year-old pivot. 

    Whatever it is, Richards needs to be more assertive with a man advantage—the Rangers cannot let power-play chances go to waste. He needs to be more responsible in his own end and better with breakouts.

    If not, Richards could find himself bought out by summer's end. 

Marc Staal

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Marc Staal hasn't been awful, but he hasn't been great either. 

    He's been outplayed by his partner Anton Stralman and is minus-one for the series.

    Staal hasn't been as strong on the puck as we're used to seeing, and he's lost some battles in the corner, a trend which dates back to the Montreal series.

    On the depth chart, Staal is the third defenseman behind Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi, but he's played more like the fourth or fifth. He doesn't have to chip in offensively, but he does have to be stronger on the puck and make better decisions when he has it.  

    With McDonagh and Girardi playing insane minutes, it's up to guys like Staal to pick up the slack when the latter need a break. So far, he hasn't really done that.

    He needs to be more physical and a bit quicker against the heavy Kings. 

Martin St. Louis

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    Rebecca Taylor/Getty Images

    Yes, he had a goal in Game 2.

    But Martin St. Louis was minus-three in that game, including being on the ice for the winning goal. He has just three shots in the series and has gone long stretches without doing anything meaningful.

    St. Louis is at his best when he is pushing the pace, setting up teammates and scoring goals. We haven't seen enough of that yet.

    To be more assertive, St. Louis needs to take more shots. He loves to pass, and he's great at it. But sometimes his passes are too good—his teammates aren't expecting them. He needs to utilize his great shot more often. 

    For the Rangers to come back in this series, they will need St. Louis to play like he has for most of the playoffs. They need him to take over games. So far, he hasn't done that. 

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