The New York Rangers were without captain and 25-goal scorer Ryan Callahan, but that didn't stop their offense from coming through when it was needed. Derek Stepan sniped the game-winning goal just 39 seconds after the Boston Bruins tied the game at three to give the Rangers a 4-3 lead.
It was a huge goal -- and an even bigger win -- for a team who was missing its second highest goal scorer against one of the other elite teams in the Eastern Conference.
There have been (and will still be) some question marks surrounding the Rangers' offense this season. It was that very issue that sparked the Rick Nash interest (among other things) and it was the main priority Glen Sather decided not to address at the trade deadline. Granted, cavalry might be coming in the form of Chris Kreider, but even if Kreider made the jump to the NHL he shouldn't be counted on to be the team's savior.
Regardless, the Rangers' offense has proven itself the past couple of weeks. Join me after the jump for more.
A lot of Rangers have stepped up since Callahan has been out with an injury. One of the biggest has been Brad Richards who had two assists in the win over the Bruins and now has five assists in his past five games. John Tortorella has also been pairing Richards with Marian Gaborik and it's resulted in some dangerous chances. Richards got the primary assist for Gaborik's goal to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead early in the third period. Richards also got an assist off a brilliant coast-to-coast pass to a flying Carl Hagelin (who scored his 12th goal of the season in the win).
Speaking of Hagelin, the rookie has three goals and two assists his past five games. Hagelin has provided some serious secondary scoring for the Rangers since he was called up earlier in the season, and his speed has proven to be a real weapon for Tortorella, especially late in games.
We have also seen a huge step from Michael Del Zotto this season, a topic we went into detail about earlier in the year. Del Zotto recorded an assist in the win over the Bruins, matching his career-high 28 assist he set as a rookie. Del Zotto has been working with Richards this year and the results have definitely shown.
We also need to give props to Gaborik, who not only scored a big goal in the win but has been effective all season. Gaborik also has an offensive streak going, he's posted five points his last three games and has been coming up huge when the Rangers have needed goals.
The biggest positive of the Rangers' offense coming alive last night was bailing out Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist didn't play poorly against the Bruins, but he was certainly not his usual self. Either way, the offense was there to help him, which is a quality for most elite teams; different players doing different things to get the job done.
It's good to see the Rangers put the puck into the back of the net with some consistency (10 goals their last three games), and it's no surprise that the offense has lead to points (five of a possible six points during that stretch.