Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/22/14 at 09:41 AM ET
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
New York Rangers center Derek Stepan can't help but smile and even laugh as he witnesses the recognition defenseman Ryan McDonagh is starting to receive from the media during the Eastern Conference Final.
Stepan knows why it's coming in droves now: McDonagh's six points against the Montreal Canadiens and eight in his past five Stanley Cup Playoff games (all wins), is a giveaway.
"It's well-deserved," Stepan said.
Stepan is thrilled for his teammate and close friend. He's proud too. But you can forgive him for not being surprised.
Six years of playing with McDonagh has given Stepan perspective on the defenseman that nobody else in the NHL has or can have. Eight points in five games, as impressive as that is, won't change the opinion Stepan long-ago formed on McDonagh, his former college teammate.
"I've seen this coming for a long time," Stepan said.
This refers to McDonagh's ascent into an exclusive category of NHL defensemen, the few who can be labeled "elite," which Stepan called him three times after practice in advance of Game 3 against the Canadiens on Thursday.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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