Found December 18, 2011 on Blue Seat Blogs:

This weekend’s guest post comes courtesy of Jordan Ozer (poster: JordanO), who put together a nice Derek Stepan appreciation post. Thanks for the contribution Jordan, great job.  As a reminder, if you want to have your own guest post, feel free to email us and let us know. We run these on Sunday’s.

Derek Stepan Appreciation Post

- Jordan Ozer

I am prejudiced to like Derek Stepan. As a student at the University of Wisconsin, I watched from the student section as he put together two very successful seasons at the collegiate level. In 2009-10 he recorded 54 points, which led the NCAA runners-up squad that included eventual NHL’ers in Craig Smith, Blake Geoffrion, Jake Gardiner, and Brendan Smith. Even in college he was more of a distributer than a scorer, tallying 66 assists against 21 goals in 81 collegiate games. After two strong seasons in Wisconsin, he jumped to the pros and made the Rangers out of training camp.

So while my expectations were high going into last season, even the biggest of Stepan optimists could not have predicted that he would burst onto the scene the way he did, beating Ryan Miller three times en route to becoming the fourth player in NHL history to score a hat trick in their debut. Stepan displayed a remarkable maturity that enabled him to successfully make the jump from the NCAA level to the NHL and becoming a budding start in New York City at just 20 years old. One of just four Rangers to play in all 82 games, he finished fourth on the Rangers in goals (21) and points (45).

The remarkable strides in Stepan’s game have come this season. Rather than fall prone to a sophomore slump, Derek has in fact elevated his game, recording 20 points (7 goals and 13 assists) in his first 29 games. Stepan’s play has been improving in all phases this season. He has established a spot on the point for the power play, helping a unit that has moved the puck well and created good chances as of late. He has also contributed on the penalty kill, recently evidenced by his play in the 6-1 win over Buffalo where he took the puck on an end-to-end rush to kill the penalty and finished with a highlight reel goal.

Where last season his ability to be a twenty-goal scorer in the NHL was noteworthy, this season his passing and vision have stood out. His skills as a passer and playmaker have helped him earn a spot on the first line, developing instant chemistry with Artem Anisimov and Marion Gaborik. Stepan’s talents have meshed especially well with Gaborik. The Slovakian winger has been streaky at times with the Rangers, but Stepan has helped him light the lamp with consistency this season. If Stepan continues to play this well, he is likely to be a fixture on the first line for the remainder of the season.

The Rangers have been off to a fast start in 2011, racking up wins with a youthful core. It’s clear that a big part of the future is the 21-year old kid from Hastings, Minnesota: Derek Stepan.


Injury Updates: Eminger Out 8-10 Weeks, Sauer, Staal, Wolski, Bickel/Erixon Recalled

The New York Rangers released plenty of information regarding their long list of injured players today, so here goes nothing.... Steve Eminger: Eminger left Saturday's game against the Phoenix Coyotes in the second period after separating his shoulder on a hard hit that he took into the boards. Head coach John Tortorella said today that Eminger will miss eight to ten weeks...

Erixon Returned To Connecticut; Rangers Making The Right Decision

Tim Erixon’s second call up was short lived, as the Rangers returned the rookie defenseman to the CT Whale of the AHL last night. Erixon was called up as a precaution for the Rangers road trip to St. Louis and Phoenix. Although many –including us– assumed he would be playing during this call up, John Tortorella specifically stated that Erixon was an emergency call up, and would...

Rangers Recall Stu Bickel

With the injuries mounting, the Rangers had to recall a defenseman just to have enough bodies on the blue line. That defenseman is Stu Bickel, who has been recalled by the Rangers. In 27 games with the CT Whale, Bickel has a goal, three assists, and 80 PIMs. He has been one of the more steady defensemen on the Whale’s blue line. The decision to call up Bickel as opposed to Tim...

Avery to be Waived Soon?

Pat Leonard says it wouldn't surprise him if Sean Avery were placed on waivers soon. He adds that no source is telling him this is going to happen.Leonard adds that if it were to happen it won't be this week as rosters are frozen from tomorrow to December 27th....with Rupp's return to the line-up and Wolski right behind, I sadly have to agree with Leonard....if the Rangers...

Rangers Return Erixon to Whale

The Rangers announced that they assigned Tim Erixon to the CT Whale yesterday evening.Erixon was called-up as insurance in the event Steve Eminger wasn't able to play in Thursday night's game in St. Louis.Andrew Gross at Rangers Rants reports that Erixon was told about assignment after traveling from St. Louis to Phoenix with the team....what a jerk move by the Rangers. Instead...

Torts Gives Richards a Wake-up Call

Dan Martin at the New York Post has this response from Brad Richards after John Tortorella sat him for nearly the entire first period Thursday night in St. Louis..."It's been like that since I've known him," Richards said. "It's not a big deal. I have to be held accountable like everybody else. ... Sometimes it's good to get a little wakeup."For...

Rupp, Biron In vs. Coyotes; No Avery

The Rangers announce that Mike Rupp will return to the Rangers line-up tonight vs. the Coyotes for the first time since knee surgery 22 games ago.Here's John Tortorella on Rupp..."He gives us a guy who can play center and wing, and once he gets back on his a game, a guy who can take and win faceoffs," Tortorella said of Rupp. "He adds some size, and takes some...

In-Game: Rangers at Coyotes, 12/17/11

// CLICK HERE for Rangers-Coyotes Pregame

Game 30 Preview: Rangers at Phoenix

Standings: Coyotes (16-12-3), Rangers (17-8-4) Leading Scorer: Ray Whitney (10-18-28) Goaltender: Mike Smith(26 GP, 2.53 GAA, .920 SV%) Rangers Lines (probable): Artem Anisimov-Derek Stepan-Marian Gaborik Ruslan Fedotenko-Brad Richards-Ryan Callahan Carl Hagelin-Brian Boyle-John Mitchell Brandon Dubinsky-Erik Christensen-Brandon Prust Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi Michael Del Zotto...

Quick Practice Notes

Per Andrew Gross, the lines at practice were as follows: Artem Anisimov-Derek Stepan-Marian Gaborik Brandon Dubinsky-Brad Richards-Ryan Callahan Ruslan Fedotenko-Mike Rupp-Brandon Prust Carl Hagelin-Brian Boyle-John Mitchell Also per Gross, the “spare” forwards of Wojtek Wolski, Erik Christensen, and Sean Avery were skating together as a fifth line. It’s kind of ironic when...

Family Dynamics fundraiser on Jan. 9

Follow @thenyrangers Share Select New York Rangers players will join alumnus and honorary chairman Adam Graves at the 16th Annual Family Dynamics fundraising event at Madison Square Garden on Monday, January 9th from 5...

Slap Shot: Rangers Lose Two Defensemen as Staal Gets Closer to Return

Steve Eminger will be out 8 to 10 weeks while recuperating from a separated right shoulder sustained in Saturday's 3-2 victory in Phoenix, and Jeff Woywitka was unable to practice Monday after being struck in the ankle with a shot later that game.

Phoenix Coyotes lose to New York Rangers as time expires

Puck crosses line with .1 seconds on the clock to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory.
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