Rangers Notebook: Hagelin, Stepan thrive on top line

Derek Stepan has stepped up to the top line this season. Credit: Getty Images
Derek Stepan has stepped up to the top line this season.
Credit: Getty Images

It is not a surprise that Rick Nash is top-line wing.

Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan being his linemates might be, especially when considering the high-end talent that makes up the 2013 edition of the Rangers.

But according to head coach John Tortorella, Hagelin and Stepan have earned the job on merit.

“I just don’t think they’re afraid,” Tortorella said during his pregame press conference. “I think sometimes when you’re playing with top players, you end up trying to get them the puck. You just change your game.

“Hags is a very confident guy. Step is a guy who’s been here, understands the personnel. I thought played his best game of the year in [the Rangers’ 4-3 shootout win] Boston [Tuesday night]. He was killing penalties, everything. Strong on the puck. He’s a guy that needs to be able to do that. We have him as a second-line center for this year. Right now he’s on the top line. He can handle that.”

Isles dealing with offensive issues

It would be hard to overstate the importance of last night’s Garden match for the Islanders.

Facing their urban rivals for the second time in a week, the Islanders entered Thursday night’s game with an 0-5-0 record in February. The slide has the Islanders last in the Atlantic Division and they reside in the league’s cellar with Washington.

Among the primary reasons for the Islanders’ nosedive has been an offensive outage. Opponents have outscored the Islanders 20-9 in the five games. Of their nine goals, five have come at even strength. The remaining four were scored on the power play.

Head coach Jack Capuano believes the offensive problems are twofold.

“Five-on-five, there’s a couple things,” Capuano said. “It’s not about structural where we’re at. It’s about defending. Go back. The [Thomas] Vanek goal, the [Eric] Staal goal, I mean we’re right there but we’re not strong enough in front of our net. We have to be stronger. We have to defend with our sticks and making sure we’re boxing guys out.”

The other issue has been a lack of production from the second, third and fourth lines. The top line of Brad Boyes, John Tavares and Matt Moulson have combined for 16 goals and 37 points. The remaining three lines have recorded 15 goals and 36 points.

“The offensive side, we tweaked the lines a little bit like we did early on in the season,” Capuano said. “We’re going to have to get some secondary scoring, especially on the road where their top ‘D’ against our top lines. The other lines have to get going to help us out a little bit.”

Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Drive charged in fatal hit and run, police…

The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for a fatal hit and run in Manhattan last weekend. Doohee Cho, 33, was hit…

Local

Mayor de Blasio raises minimum wage for some…

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday morning that will raise the minimum wage for workers employed by private companies that receive more…

National

3 myths about the working poor

Linda Tirado works to debunk some common stereotypes about the working poor in her new book, "Hand to Mouth."

Money

Lawsuit funding advances: friend or foe?

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Many plaintiffs awaiting resolution of their lawsuit or legal claim often find themselves in a tricky financial…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

Entertainment

Interview: Metro chats with filmmaker Meir Kalmanson, man…

A New York filmmaker hands out smiles to its residents.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 30: 'Selfie,' 'Utopia'…

'Selfie' This modern day take on the "My Fair Lady" story stars John Cho in the Henry Higgins role. Perhaps instead of "the rain in…

Music

Can't-miss weekend events continue to attract the masses

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Earlier this summer, the Firefly Music Festival drew crowds of tens of thousands of people to Dover, Delaware.…

MLB

Mets 2014 report card

The Mets wrapped up their eight straight season without a playoff appearance last weekend. Needless to say, they fell a bit short of general manager…

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys, Packers, Ravens, Chargers climb

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

Style

Products that support breast cancer awareness and research

Asics GT-1000, $100 Asics’ third pink collection in collaboration with Christina Applegate’s Right Action for Women includes this pink-accented version of its best-selling GT-1000 3…

Wellbeing

Dr. Marisa Weiss: Where we stand on breast…

As an oncologist and a survivor herself, Dr. Marisa Weiss knows the urgency felt by those diagnosed with breast cancer. Genetic testing has accelerated the…

Wellbeing

Bees' stingers hold new hope for cancer cure

A promising new lead in the search for a cancer cure has turned up in a place that most people naturally avoid. A team from…

Home

Emily Henderson on small space design

Design expert Emily Henderson shows us how to upgrade our cramped quarters.