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Derek Stepan

Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck during a game against the New York Rangers at Consol Energy Center on January 18, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)

Rangers, Penguins Heading In Different Directions Ahead Of First-Round Clash

When the puck drops Thursday night for the opener of their seven-game Eastern Conference playoff series, the Rangers will have been on a tear that began when they made the Stanley Cup finals in 2014.

04/16/2015

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 06: Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers celebrates his game tying goal in the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden on April 6, 2015 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Blue Jackets 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Stepan Forces OT, Seals Win As Rangers Rally To Beat Blue Jackets

Derek Stepan scored with 28 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, then got the winner late in the extra period in the New York Rangers’ 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night.

04/07/2015

Derek Stepan #21, Kevin Hayes #13 and Keith Yandle #93 of the New York Rangers celebrate the win over the Anaheim Ducks on March 22, 2015 at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Hartnett: Yandle Is Showing That He Can Be Rangers’ Difference-Maker

During Sunday’s victory, Yandle became the only defenseman to record three 40-assist seasons since 2010-11.

03/23/2015

The New York Rangers celebrate a power-play goal by Chris Kreider #20 against the Arizona Coyotes at 8:11 of the first period at Madison Square Garden on February 26, 2015. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Hartnett: First-Place Rangers Haven’t Even Found Their ‘A’ Game Yet

The Rangers are getting healthier, and they will likely add a couple of depth pieces before the trade deadline passes. And most importantly, they’re going to eventually find their “A” game.

02/27/2015

Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers celebrates his goal with Chris Kreider #20 in the third period against the New York Islanders on February 16, 2015 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale,New York. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Hartnett: Rangers Have Big-Game Players, And It Will Benefit Them In Playoffs

New Yorkers are craving a Rangers-Islanders playoff showdown, and it almost seems inevitable that the Battle of New York will be fought in an epic playoff clash sometime in April or May.

02/17/2015

The Rangers’ Derick Brassard, right, takes a shot against Sergei Gonchar of the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 29, 2015. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Where’s The Offense? Rangers Start Off The Second Half In A Funk

Henrik Lundqvist can do only so much to help the New York Rangers.

01/30/2015

Marc Staal (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Hartnett: Rangers Earn Big Character Win Over Sens, Head Into Break On A High

The Rangers found a way to gut out an overtime victory on Tuesday night and head into the All-Star break on a three-game winning streak.

01/21/2015

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 20:  Carl Hagelin #62 of the New York Rangers celebrates his game winning goal against Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators to the Ottawa Senators in overtime in their game at Madison Square Garden on January 20, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Rangers Come From Behind To Edge Senators In OT 3-2

Carl Hagelin deflected in Derek Stepan’s slick backhand pass 2:55 into overtime to give the New York Rangers a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.

01/21/2015

Patrice Bergeron celebrates after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the first period at TD Garden on January 15, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Hartnett: Rangers, Desperately Missing Stepan, Gift-Wrap Bruins A Win

All season long, the Rangers have looked like two different teams when Derek Stepan is and isn’t in the lineup. They need him back and healthy ASAP.

01/16/2015

J.T. Miller #10 of the New York Rangers skates with the puck during NHL action against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on December 13, 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Hartnett: Stepan Injury Thrusts J.T. Miller Into The Spotlight

Through 20 games, Miller has scored five goals and collected five assists. That’s solid production for a player who has mostly been getting bottom-six minutes.

01/15/2015

Calvin de Haan of the New York Islanders and Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers battle for the puck at Madison Square Garden on January 13, 2015. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Hartnett: Murphy’s Law In Full Effect As Rangers Fall To Rival Isles

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault predicted the highly anticipated showdown would be “a New York classic.” It turned out to be a night to forget for the sluggish Blueshirts.

01/14/2015

Derek Stepan  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Hartnett: Stepan’s Contributions Proving Vital For Surging Rangers

Since returning on Nov. 8, Rangers center Derek Stepan has been playing the most dominant hockey of his five-year NHL career.

01/01/2015

Jaromir Jagr #68 of the New Jersey Devils moves the puck against Matthew Lombardi #45 of the New York Rangers during the second period at the Prudential Center on October 4, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Rangers Top Devils 3-1 For 8th Straight Win

the New York Rangers won their eighth consecutive game, 3-1, spoiling the debut of the New Jersey Devils’ revamped coaching staff on Saturday night.

12/27/2014

Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers celebrates his goal at 4:10 of the first period against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on December 21, 2014. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Hartnett: Streaking Rangers Feel The Confidence Flowing Again

Having extended their winning streak to six games, the Rangers are brimming with confidence.

12/22/2014

Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers is hit into the boards by Radko Gudas #7 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at Madison Square Garden on December 1, 2014.(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Hartnett: Oh How The Mighty Rangers Have Fallen

Are the Rangers a playoff-caliber team? Certainly. Are they Stanley Cup contenders? It sure isn’t looking that way.

12/02/2014

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