LAS VEGAS -- Despite the instant success of the New York Rangers' top line of Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, ex-Ranger Brian Leetch is not convinced that trio has to stay together in order for the team to win.
"I like the way they had it split up to start with, Nash and Richards together, Gaborik and [Derek] Stepan with [Ryan] Callahan," Leetch, a part-time Rangers' analyst on the MSG Network, told NHL.com on Tuesday. "I really liked that. But when you're having trouble scoring and everyone isn't firing on all cylinders, it's a pretty good luxury to throw those three guys together.
"The fact that they had some immediate success also helps, but I liked the first set up. I think that's ideal. Obviously, [Chris] Kreider is a wild card there."
Kreider is injured and will again not be in the lineup Tuesday night when the Rangers host the Philadelphia Flyers.
Leetch, though, said the other wild cards now are guys like Stepan, Callahan and Carl Hagelin -- the Rangers' projected second line for Tuesday's game at Madison Square Garden.
Callahan is the only one of the three with a goal this season, but it's the only point he has. Stepan has four assists and Hagelin is still searching for his first point of the season. He hasn't scored a goal since March 15, 2012.
"What they're talking about now, getting more scoring, is accurate," Leetch said. "They need Callahan and Stepan to get on the board. They need Hagelin to be involved offensively.
"I like the way they had the lines set up from Day 1, and they didn't produce for a couple of games so they switched it up, and that was understandable."
Leetch, though, said he thinks the Rangers are going to figure it out and be just fine. He thinks they can live up to their expectations of being a Stanley Cup contender this season.
"With expectations the way they are this year and not winning the first few games, you could just feel the tension rising," Leetch said. "When I did that game [for MSG] against Boston, talking to people around there, I was like, 'Just relax, relax.' They're a good team and they're going to be fine. There is such a feel of expectation level now."