For each player who suited up in a Blueshirt this season we will take the good, we will take the bad and take them both and see what we have. And this time around we started with the high numbers and are up to #21, Derek Stepan.
#21's #s: 82 games, 21 goals, 24 assists, +8, 20 PIM (5 playoff games, no goals, no assists, -5, 2 PIM).
Take the good: Stepan stepped off of campus and onto Broadway and rarely looked out of place, playing with a poise beyond his years. The rookie seized a top-six spot, played every single game and earned priceless experience in all situations. He worked hard and yet did it with a smile, showing he was comfortable being a professional. He took hit after hit after hit and bounced right back and stayed involved. Step showed skill and he showed grit and he went far beyond being that new kid with the attractive mom that MSG keeps showing.
Take the bad: There's a wall and Step hit it - at least we have to hope that was the issue and not the situation - the kid didn't get a single point in the playoffs and was -1 in every single game ... then again he played four minutes per game than he did in the regular season. He tried to do too much too often and was marginalized by stronger, more experienced defenders. After opening with a much-publicised hat trick, Step went on an 18 game drought. He averaged more than two minutes of power play time per game and had just 10 points with the man advantage.
Take them both and then we have: One of the building blocks for the new era of the Blueshirts. Stepan epitomizes the kind of leadership and character that Gordie Clark has targeted in recent drafts - you can easily see him wearing a letter someday. He is willing to pay the price to make the play and has great timing and good patience but he needs to stay involved and keep learning. Stepan needs to pick up the tricks of the game, especially those in the faceoff circle - 38.5% this year was simply awful. He showed great chemistry with Zuccarello (if only the Norge kid would shoot the damned puck occasionally) and a strong, veteran power winger could really complete a dangerous second line.