The New York Rangers have things going in the right direction with a current four game winning streak and sitting at an impressive 7-3-3 after 13 games. There is much to be excited about as Marian Gaborik has returned to form, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh are carrying the defensive load admirably in the absence of Marc Staal and Brad Richards seems to have found comfort with Callahan and Dubinsky. One spot that could use improvement is the Rangers third line of Brian Boyle, Ruslan Fedotenko and Brandon Prust.
Last season this line was one of the biggest bright spots for the organization, but the production level and impact of the group has not been nearly the same early this season. As Andrew Gross reports in The Record the trip knows they need to bring more for the Rangers to keep up the early success in the standings.
"The last game, we were better," Boyle said as the trio combined for six shots, including three by Prust. "But it's frustrating, though. We know how good we can be. It's a little mental, we need to start thinking a little more positive. We want to produce more. I want to produce more. It's not easy. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.""I think we still have some work to do in getting back to the things that were successful last year – getting the puck in deep, getting in on the forecheck and bringing the puck to the net for opportunities," Prust said. "We've proved we can play together, it's not that we can't play together anymore."
The Rangers do need more from the line as a group in terms of offensive production as they combined for 44 goals and 45 assists last season and only have four goals and nine assists in 13 games this year. However, more important than production on the scoreboard is the energy and mentality this line brings to the team. When they are working the forecheck as they are capable it brings a different mindset to the team and the whole unit gets more pressure on the opposition. They are slowly getting back to that and when they fully get there the offense will come. For now the Rangers are getting the production from their primary players and the longer that continues, the focus and pressure on the third line to produce with remain low.