One of the most impressive lines the New York Rangers threw out late in their series against Ottawa was one featuring captain Ryan Callahan, rookie Chris Kreider, and second-year forward Derek Stepan. They were the line that saw the bulk of the clutch minutes late in the Rangers’ Game 7 win and while Kreider is getting his fair share of attention, Stepan might be the guy that makes it all go.
“I approach every game with the same mindset and the same principle no matter who I’m playing with,” Stepan said yesterday on the one day between Game 7 against Ottawa and today’s Game 1 against Washington. “Artie [Artem Anisimov] and Gabby [Marian Gaborik] might have different abilities than Cally and Kreids, but the mindset is to skate and work on every shift and do what I can to get my wingers the puck.
“That doesn’t ever change.”
Being the set-up man doesn’t always get you the attention, goals are king after all, but if Stepan can continue feeling comfortable in this role and feeding the puck to his linemates, the Rangers will be more than happy to see his point totals climb. Goals were at a premium against Ottawa and Stepan finished with a goal and three assists. More of that against Washington could see the Rangers move on to the Eastern Conference finals.
Flames keep showing life, Stars stumble once again
If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”
There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.
Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.
One team climbing, the other stumbling
With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.
During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.
Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.