Rangers- Derek Stepan: After an admitted slow start to his season, Derek Stepan has been the definition of consistency since the start of February. The 22-year-old has been on a tear over the last 20 games, scoring at a point-per game pace, and finds himself just two points behind Rick Nash for the team lead with 29. He and Nash have been the Rangers most effective tandem, and along with Ryan Callahan, have been the Blueshirts' most lethal line over the past two weeks. Stepan is quickly emerging as the team's No. 1 center. Last night, despite have a difficult night on draws, head coach John Tortorella called on Stepan to win an offensive faceoff — which he did — that immediately led to Nash's game-tying goal in the third period.
Hurricanes- Eric Staal: After a down-year a season ago, Hurricanes captain Eric Staal has re-emerged as the superstar that he is. Through 36 games this season, Staal has 40 points — eighth in the NHL — and is a plus-9, quite the improvement from his minus-20 showing last year. Staal scored the lone goal between two teams on March 18, so the Rangers know first hand how dangerous he is on the ice. Despite his team's recent dip, Staal is holding up his end of the bargain, notching five points over his last five contests, including two multi-point games.