The recent emergence of Chris Kreider couldn’t have come at a better time but only time will tell if it will translate into playoff production.
The same can be said for Kevin Hayes, who has finally started to find his game in the past month. He is going to the net and producing on the score sheet.
I have said throughout the regular season that the Rangers need these two players hitting on all cylinders if they want to be successful, and that couldn’t be more true in this series.
Yes, Pittsburgh has some serious talent, but players like Kreider and Hayes could be the equalizers if they continue to trend upwards.
Then there is Rick Nash.
People need to realize that Rick Nash is not going to be the power forward that they expect him to be, especially in the playoffs.
He can however, continue to be effective in the offensive zone and special teams. If Nash can score the occasional clutch goal, it would be icing on the cake at this point.
Yes, he was injured for a good portion of the regular season but Nash still had an abysmal year, so why fans think that he will find a hot streak in the playoffs is a little disconcerting.
Eric Staal however, can be that guy.
Staal has valuable playoff experience and knows what it takes to win a championship. But the Rangers will need him to break out of the year-long slump he has experienced this season.
Once again, he hasn’t exactly given fans any reason to believe that he will, but that can change.
Then there are the young players.
How will players like Brady Skjei, J.T. Miller, and Jesper Fast handle what is sure to be a fast and physical series, not to mention the pressure?
The Rangers will need these young guys to produce, especially as the ice shrinks with more aggressive defensive coverage.