Playoffs Offer Shot at Redemption for Two Rangers

Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal can rewrite the stories of their seasons

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The second season could be the only one that counts for Dubinsky.

    So much has gone right for the Rangers this season that there isn't much time spent on the things that have gone wrong.

    Unless you're a masochist, it's a pretty sensible way to go about business. Celebrating the rise of Michael Del Zotto and Derek Stepan or the sustained excellence of Marian Gaborik is a lot more fun than constantly thinking about the players who have failed to live up to expectations.

    With some time to kill before the Rangers and Senators get on the ice, though, it gives us a chance to look at a couple of Rangers players who didn't have the seasons they wanted to have this year. The reasons why Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal weren't leading lights are different, but the shot they have to change the narrative is the same.

    Dubinsky's year has been a total head scratcher, even if you make an allowance for the uncomfortable run-up to the trade deadline when he was being publicly dangled in a rumored deal for Rick Nash of the Blue Jackets.

    Dubinsky scored 20 or more goals in each of the last two years and posted five straight seasons of 40 or more points before cratering this year with 10 goals and 34 points.

    Beyond that, he found himself in John Tortorella's doghouse from time to time because of haphazard work in his own end and a habit of taking silly penalties that put the Rangers at a disadvantage. Perhaps the scoring trouble led to the issues on the other end, something that's happened before, but Dubinsky was never that kind of player in the past.

    There were some signs of life down the stretch from Dubinsky, a good sign when you add in his historically strong play in the postseason. He has 15 points in 22 career playoff games, numbers that would add a lot to the Rangers' attack if he's able to replicate them during this run.

    Staal's dropoff in production is a lot easier to understand. He didn't play until the Winter Classic because of lingering concussion symptoms and it was clear that he was trying to find his legs over much of the rest of the season.

    The Rangers need him to have those legs so that they can play their style of hockey against the Senators, an explosive team that needs to be handled with the sturdiest of defensive efforts. If Staal can provide it, the Rangers are going to be very tough to score against because they'll have plenty of bodies to throw in Ottawa's direction.

    No one will remember Dubinsky's disappointing first 82 games if he returns to form over the next few weeks. Staal's story will go from being a somewhat lost season to being a heroic comeback to lead his team the way he did before his concussion.

    Playoff hockey offers lots of chances to be heroes. The Rangers don't necessarily need these guys to play that role, but it would make life much easier if they did.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.