Stepan Proving to Be Rangers' Most Consistent Forward
As of this writing, the club's 23-year-old forward is leading the team in scoring with 15 goals and 35 assists for 50 points. On a team that has the likes of Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider and a few other talented forwards, Stepan has once again managed to stand above the rest.
Things certainly did not go well in the beginning of the season for Stepan. The team's leading scorer struggled to put the puck in the net, struggled to set up his teammates, and lost some confidence in his offensive abilities.
Considering that the the Rangers were without former Ranger Ryan Callahan and Nash due to injuries, this was a problem. Stepan, who led the team in scoring last season with 44 points (18 goals and 26 assists), needed to be one of his team's top producers and he simply was not getting the job done.
As the season progressed, however, things began to change. Stepan found chemistry with Nash and Chris Kreider and the trio managed to become the team's number one line.
On the season, this line has provided the Rangers with consistent offense on a nightly basis. Nash has 35 points (23 goals and 12 assists) and Kreider has managed to score 37 points (17 goals and 20 assists) and night in and night out, the trio generates a ton of scoring opportunities.
For the most part, it is Stepan who creates the scoring opportunities for his teammates. With 35 assists on the year, Stepan not only leads the team in that category, but he is also 30th in the league in that statistic.
With the Rangers pushing towards the postseason, Stepan has really stepped up his play. Stepan has a three-game goal/point streak (three goals and one assists) while also having recorded a point in 11 of his last 13 games (five goals and 10 assists).
One reason for Stepan's recent success is his confidence in his offensive abilities. Stepan has shown a knack for being able to set up his teammates with accurate passes while also showing his ability to put the puck in the net with his quick shot.
Secondly, it does not hurt that he is playing with two goal scorers in Nash and Kreider. Nash is the team's leading goal scorer while Kreider is currently tied for second on the team with Carl Hagelin.
Lastly, Stepan is finding success because when he is on top of his game, he is able to produce on a nightly basis. Over the last few weeks, Stepan's name has appeared on the score sheet in almost every game.
For the Rangers to get into the postseason and then make a run at the Cup, Stepan is going to need to continue his fine play by being his team's most consistent forward.