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
International

PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth pulls off epic photobomb

The selfie / photobomb has gone viral.

Local

Astoria minivan crash kills 1, injures 6: NYPD

Anthony Boyd, 45, died soon after what investigators believe was some sort of medical emergency as he drove his family through Astoria on Sunday afternoon.

Local

NYC pension funds valued at $160b: Scott Stringer

The five NYC pension funds that thousands of city employees contribute to saw its fifth year in a row of increased returns, up $23 billion from last year.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Entertainment

'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood' game easter eggs and cheats

"Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" is the hottest game of the moment. Here are its best easter eggs as well as some tips and tricks to speed your way to the top.

Television

Kacy Catanzaro credits mind over body in "American…

Kacy Catanzaro credits her victory to mental focus and upper body strength.

Entertainment

Q&A: The brains behind 'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood'

"Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" is the hottest game of the moment. We talked with Christopher Locke of Glu Canada to find out more about developing the game.

Movies

The 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer is…

Watch 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Tech

Amazon offers 3D printing to customize earrings, bobble…

By Deepa SeetharamanSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and…

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…