Rangers’ desire to acquire Patrick Kane causes havoc in win over Kings

Feb 26, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) battle for control of the puck following a face off in the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers’ desire to obtain Patrick Kane from the Chicago Blackhawks forced the team into some very unusual circumstances in their 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings Sunday night at the Garden.

Throughout an NHL season, you can see great goals scored, big hits, and great saves. During the New York Rangers’ win over the L.A. Kings on Sunday night, there were so many things occurring on and off the ice, that many forgot there were two points on the line in the standings.

It is no secret that the Blueshirts are attempting to find a way through their salary cap issues to trade for superstar Patrick Kane. This is where the craziness begins for our Blueshirts. General Manager Chris Drury may be forcing the coaching staff to make some unorthodox decisions, but the players are the ones who have to find a way to play hockey, despite lineup decisions.

The salary cap has been a topic of conversation for the past several weeks. Without getting into the technicality involved in what the Rangers are trying to accomplish, the team needs to send a player or possibly two to the AHL so that they will be cap compliant when the team actually completes the trade for Kane.

Two things became very clear before the start of yesterday’s contest.

1- You cannot send a player to the minors if he is injured.

2- If a team has the cap space, they must dress a minimum of 18 players.

Early in the afternoon yesterday, there was plenty of speculation that the team would dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen for the game. It looked like the e team wanted to protect some players from an injury scenario that could halt the upcoming trade later in the week. The Rangers were already down one defenseman with the Ryan Lindgren injury that happened on Saturday in Wahington, where he is officially listed as day-to-day.

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A Surprising Rule to the Ordinary

Sunday began with the team sending Jake Leschyshyn to the AHL (he had cleared waivers) and recalled Ryan Carpenter. This was a cap-saving decision. The team had planned not to dress him for the game. Then this tweet came out by Rangers beat reporter Vince Mercogliano.

The team would have to dress 18 players because they indeed had the cap room to do so. But that didn’t mean they had to use 18 players during the game.

Prior to the start of the game, it was announced that both Carpenter and Braden Schneider would not play a shift in the game. This was an indication that the club would be sending one or both players to the AHL in preparation for making the trade with Chicago for Kane.

In essence, though 18 players were dressed, the team would play five defensemen and 11 forwards. That plan worked out for almost all of the first period until K’Andre Miller was caught spitting (intentionally or not) at the Kings Drew Daughtry.

Miller was assessed a match penalty, which included a five-minute major, and was ejected from the game.

From that point forward, it was apparent that the GM had specific orders sent to Gerard Gallant not to play Carpenter or Schneider. Now to be fair, Carpenter served the five-minute major for Miller. The team killed off the power play, and Carpenter did skate on the since in the ensuing play until the first opportunity to get off the ice.

Four Defensemen Played Entire Game

Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox, Niko Mikkola, and Ben Harpur played old-school hockey for the entirety of the game following Miller’s ejection. Their time on ice was staggering;

Trouba – 29:01

Harpur – 28:04

Fox- 25:57

Mikkola- 25:34

An incredible feat achieved during a time of craziness on Broadway. One would think this would never have to happen again.

Then there is the status of Miller. The NHL will review his on-ice incident and determine if a suspension is to be handed out. With the team’s current cap situation, it is unclear if the club could make the trade earlier than Friday. If they cannot swing the deal before Mar. 3, there is a good chance that the Ranger’s next game will see another four-defenseman situation.

There was a glimmer of hope the trade can be done on Wednesday when the team announced that Schneider was sent to the AHL following last night’s game.

This was a cap maneuvering, paperwork transaction. It is believed he won’t play for Hartford and should be recalled for Wednesday night’s game against the Flyers in Philadelphia. Most likely, Carpenter would be sent back to the AHL when Schneider is called up to keep all the salary cap finances in order.

With all the financial running around the organization is doing, the trade for Kane is of no surprise, the team is in a win-now mode as they prepare for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

For the first time in a very long time, it’s Stanley Cup or bust for our New York Rangers.