As Derek Stepan continued his holdout through training camp, many a Rangers fan were concerned the layoff may have a similarly negative effect on his game as it did for Brandon Dubinsky back in 2009.
With Dubinsky, whether it was the layoff (eight days) or the pressure from the money, he never quite got going that season and Rangers Nation is praying Stepan doesn't fall prey to the same fate.
Here's Stepan on his struggles (via Daily News)…
Stepan said that he’s “trying not to let myself get frustrated with it” and “not going to force plays looking for goals,” but at the same time, he acknowledged he’s often overcomplicating situations when “shooting the puck is usually the higher-percentage play.”
Stepan also admitted he's feeling the pressure of trying to make the U.S. Olympic team.
Stepan has five goals this season, but has only scored in three games and is currently in a one goal in the last 18 games drought.
…while there's a lot of them, I'm not sure there's been a bigger disappointment on the Rangers this season than Stepan. I know Lundqvist hasn't been up to snuff, but his struggles aren't in the same stratosphere as the 23-year old center's. If the Rangers have any chance of digging themselves out of this pit of mediocrity, Stepan must rediscover his scoring touch.
…unfortunately, I think we're witnessing a repeat of what Richards experienced last season. Stepan obviously put himself behind the eight ball by holding out and, similar to Richards, is still struggling to catchup.
…i mean the guy has played with Kreider and Nash on his wings and he still can't find room out there.
…at this point it's got to be in his head and we can only hope a flukey goal is in his future to snap him out of it and get him some much needed confidence.
…i also found it very interesting that Stepan admitted feeling some tension due to being on the bubble of making the USA Olympic hockey team. If he continues to scuffle he might end up playing his way out of Sochi.