Derek Stepan is on a precipice, and he knows it.

The Rangers' third-year center is no longer a prospect, can no longer chalk up mistakes to inexperience, and can no longer look at NHL stardom as a thing to come down the road. He is now the Rangers' second-line center, and no matter how many times coach John Tortorella shuffles his lines, Stepan will be — has to be — an integral part of the team's game plan.

"Well, we can't bring anybody up from Hartford," Tortorella said in frustration after his team's 2-1 loss to the Flyers on Thursday night. "It's not going to be anything like that."

No, it's going to be like this — see Stepan, apply pressure, hope he can respond to it.

"Anyone on our team can play the big minutes," Stepan said. "I have to step up and score a goal."