The sense of relief Derek Stepan felt Sunday night was palpable. Finally he can get The Drought out of his mind after scoring on a power play late in the Rangers’ 4-1 win over the Red Wings, snapping a career-long 23-game stretch without a goal.
Since last scoring on Jan. 17, the longer Stepan went without scoring the more it weighed on him. It became difficult enough to the point where he was initiating conversations with people to try to help himself mentally, and one person from whom he sought advice was former teammate Martin St. Louis, who went through his own dry spell as a Ranger.
After the Rangers acquired St. Louis, the six-time All-Star and former Hart Trophy winner, at the 2014 trade deadline for Ryan Callahan and two draft picks, St. Louis went his first 14 games as a Ranger without scoring, finally getting off the schneid with a shorthanded goal in Vancouver.
“He said it felt like a year,” Stepan said St. Louis told him of his goal-less streak.
Stepan reached out to St. Louis — who had his No. 26 retired by the Lightning this season — before the Rangers left for Tampa last Sunday to begin their road trip, and St. Louis knew exactly why Stepan was calling.
“It was just a lot talking about the process,” Stepan said of the conversation. “Me and Marty, when Marty was here, we talked a lot of hockey. We are hockey nerds, so to say, talking plays, and we played together the whole time he was here. He was good to lean on. He gave me some good advice and he’s a guy I’m gonna continue to lean on. He’s got a lot of experience and he can relate to me pretty strongly.”
Previously, Stepan’s longest drought was in his rookie season when he went 18 games without scoring after notching a hat trick in his NHL debut on Oct. 9, 2010.
This latest one was wearing on him. On Thursday against the Hurricanes Stepan had a career-high 10 shots on goal and also hit a post.
“It was not an easy thing to go through,” he said. “Guys do it, you go through it in your career. You’ve just got to find a way to keep that mindset of, ‘This is just the way it is right now. Keep playing the right way.’ I felt there was probably four or five games in that 23 that I didn’t really like my game. The rest I felt pretty good about, I just wasn’t scoring.”
Now he can be glad it’s over. Stepan said J.T. Miller joked with him after Sunday’s win that there were less than 23 games remaining in the regular season. “So I can’t match it,” Stepan said.
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Dan Girardi’s Monday meeting with a specialist to have his ankle wound examined went well, and he’s expected to resume skating Tuesday, Alain Vigneault said. The coach expects Jesper Fast (upper body) to take part in the team’s next practice.
Published at Mon, 13 Mar 2017 21:44:31 +0000