Do the Rangers play better with Jacob Trouba out of the lineup?

New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) looks on against the Philadelphia Flyers in the third period at Wells Fargo Center
Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have been without captain Jacob Trouba for a few games due to injury, and they are expected to remain the same for at least a few more weeks. It would be expected that the Blueshirts would experience a significant defensive blow from losing one of their top defenders, but the exact opposite has happened thus far.

Rangers have a winning record without their captain on the ice

In their most recent matchup, the Blueshirts decimated the New York Islanders by a score of 5-2. It was an elite defensive performance, mixed in with incredible goaltending from Igor Shesterkin. Funny enough, this isn’t the only stellar defensive masterclass that the Rangers have had since losing Trouba.

During this most recent stretch, the Blueshirts have earned two shutouts- both by Shesterkin. He obviously deserves most of the credit for these performances, but perfect defensive displays in front of the net can not be overshadowed either. It seems as if the defensive corps is at its peak of the season, all without the captain on the ice. Trouba’s injury was announced on March 8th, and the Rangers have outscored their opponents 26-10 across six games since then.

New defensive pairings are finding momentum with Trouba out of the lineup

With Trouba out of the lineup, the defensive pairings have been slightly altered. Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox remain as the top unit, but K’Andre Miller and Braden Schneider have formed a new combination on the second.

Schneider, 22, has had a hard time finding momentum as a defender in his young career. He’s had flashes of elite potential every so often, but there hasn’t been much consistency from him. But now, with Schneider playing with Miller in Trouba’s absence, he has been playing some of the best hockey of his life.

One major problem with Schneider is that he’s had way too many defensive partners throughout his career. Veteran defenders have come and gone, and none have really clicked with him. Considering Trouba and Miller have been quite inconsistent this season, fans are beginning to wonder if Schneider-Miller should become the new norm even when Trouba returns.

It’s hard to believe that the Rangers would have their captain, who makes $8 million per season, play on the third defensive unit- but it’s certainly something to consider if the Rangers continue to excel without Trouba on the ice.

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