Lindgren And Fox Have Become A Solid Pairing for the New York Rangers

Brady Skjei, New York Rangers

Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox have worked their way up through the season and were becoming one of the more trusted blueline pairings for the New York Rangers. Many did not even give Lindgren much of a thought when the season started, but his hard work and chemistry with Fox have turned them into trusted and reliable Blueshirts.

Lindgren started the season in Hartford

After a brief call up in the 2018-19 season, Lindgren started the season in Hartford where he posted one goal and one assist in nine games with the Wolf Pack. His hard work in the offseason had paid off, as when he returned to the Rangers, he looked much more comfortable getting back to defend and more confident pinching in the offensive zone. Lindgren also looked much more decisive with and without the puck. He excelled on the penalty kill and quickly formed chemistry with his defense partner and former developmental teammate Adam Fox. The two were nearly inseparable after Lindgren got called up from Hartford on Oct. 28. Coach David Quinn put them together, and they remained together for 58 of the 60 games Lindgren played.

Lindgren’s role with the team became even bigger when Brady Skjei was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a first-round pick at the trade deadline. Following the trade, Lindgren became the top and most trusted left-handed defenseman. In addition to being essential on the penalty kill, he also became a steady presence in big situations and late in games. Lindgren has one goal, 13 assists and is plus-16 in 60 games with the Blueshirts this season. He has also helped Fox thrive, as he has eight goals, 34 assists in 70 games.

The Fox-Lindgren pairing has thrived

The two 22-year-olds have a close friendship that goes back to the days when they played together as teenagers in the U.S. national team development program. That friendship has shown during their improved play this year and was mentioned in a recent Zoom conference call that was sponsored by the NHL. Fox jokingly said when asked about the physical pounding Lindgren, has taken this season: “He had a streak of getting pucks to the face, high sticks — and it wasn’t even the way he plays, it was just unfortunate bounces, so his face probably needed this quarantine a little bit to heal up.’’ He was a bit more serious when he was asked about Lindgren’s style. “He thinks the game really well, and he compliments me so much. And he’s willing to stay back and make smart outlet passes. And he’s a tough guy. And I think the way I play, he just suits me really well as a ‘D’ partner.’’ As well it should as Fox has been mentioned as a candidate for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.

New York Ranger fans are happily realizing that Lindgren and Fox are both just 22-years-old and they have the potential to be the Rangers’ top defense pair for years to come.

 

The New York Rangers Signed Two NCAA Prospects

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers have stayed active during the recent pause in the NHL season by signing two NCAA players. The Rangers recently announced that the team has agreed to terms with free-agent forward Austin Rueschhoff on an entry-level contract. His contract begins at the start of the 2020-21 season. Earlier in the week, the Rangers revealed that they agreed to terms with defenseman K’Andre Miller on an entry-level contract. Miller was the Ranger’s first-round pick in the 2018 draft.

Rueschoff brings some size to the New York Rangers

The forward stands at 6-7 and 230 pounds. Imagine some scrums in front of the net with such NHL stalwarts as the Boston Bruin’s Zdeno Charo. But Rueschoff is not just a big body.

Over the three seasons he played at Western Michigan, Rueschhoff was one of 10 collegiate players who registered at least 35 goals, 35 assists, and 100 penalty minutes. He established collegiate career-highs in plus/minus rating and shots on goal, and he tied collegiate career-highs in games played and assists in 2019-20.

His Western Michigan coach had a great deal of praise for the 22-year-old. “Austin’s improvement here at Western Michigan was impressive,” said WMU head coach Andy Murray. “A quality young man, his compete level got higher each year and an increased focus on the details have led him to this NHL opportunity with the Rangers. We are excited for him and know he has a huge upside.

Miller leaves Wisconsin to join the New York Rangers

The 20-year-old defenseman scored 40 points in 62 NCAA appearances, including 18 points in 36 games this season for the Wisconsin Badgers. Internationally, Miller has represented the United States in several tournaments.

Miller played in the IIHF World Junior Championship in each of the last two years, helping the United States earn a silver medal in the tournament in 2019 and served as one of the team’s alternate captains in 2020. He also helped the United States earn a silver medal at the 2018 IIHF U18 World Championship. The Rangers are very high on the left-handed defenseman’s potential, which was one of the reasons they were comfortable dealing Brady Skjei to Carolina at last month’s trade deadline.

New York Rangers Brass Keeping Their Poker Faces On as Trade Deadline Nears

New York Rangers

The New York Ranger’s management team appears to heed the words of the legendary Kenny Rogers song The Gambler which includes the lyrics “know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, and know when to walk away.” With the NHL trade deadline approaching on Feb. 24, the Rangers have been very patient when it comes to whether to trade or keep many of their pending free agents. Sitting in their hand right now, ready to be dealt or held, are these five players: Chris Kreider, Alexandar Georgiev, Jesper Fast, Ryan Strome, and Tony DeAngelo.

The New York Rangers have an Ace in Chris Kreider

Insiders are referring to this trade season as a “buyer’s market”, meaning that teams wanting players may not have to give up as much with many teams looking to move players. However, these insiders are also stating that Kreider may be the exception to this, as his skillset and playoff experience has had many Stanley Cup contenders taking a good look at him. There is also some speculation that the Rangers may still want to sign him. All of this makes Kreider their most valuable trade chip.

Rangers’ top brass have been very patient with Georgiev

Alexandar Georgiev has been the goaltender that most thought would be traded after Igor Shesterkin was called up in early January. However, the Rangers did not panic and trade Georgiev for nothing despite the increased media and social media coverage that they have endured about their three goalie situation. The Rangers are holding out for what they perceive as value and will not move him until they get what they want.

Jesper Fast’s fate seems tied to Kreider

In this market, it seems that if Kreiders stays, Fast will go. If Kreider gets traded, the Rangers will probably try to keep and re-sign the forward.  It does not appear that the Rangers can keep both and stay under the salary cap next year.

The Restricted Free-Agent Conundrum

We detailed Tony DeAngelo and Ryan Strome’s issues for the Blueshirts in a previous article, so we won’t go into a lot of detail. However, it seems that DeAngelo may be the most likely to go as there seem to be more teams looking for defensive help, and the Rangers have quite a few capable defensive prospects in their system. The other RFA that we did not talk about much is Brendan Lemieux, but because he is a bit cap friendly in a position where the Rangers are not all that deep, he is not likely to move.

The New York Rangers have a few Wildcards

Brendan Smith ($4.35 million) and Pavel Buchnevich ($3.25 million) have been mentioned so the Rangers could free up valuable cap space. Brady Skjei is also a possibility, again as cap help and that there appear to be more teams looking for blueline help. Finally, the Rangers still have the Lias Andersson mess to deal with, and a trade deal either by himself or with one of the above players could put that to an end. The Rangers have many cards to play and February will be a busy month for Rangers management.

 

The New York Rangers Need These Three Players to Mature in Order to Make Playoff Run

New York Rangers

As the New York Rangers continue with their All-Star/Bye week break, they will soon come upon a favorable part of their schedule that could get them within shouting distance of the NHL playoffs. In order for this to happen, three of their younger players will need to step up their game in the second half of the season.  This is even more important for a team that has 14 players who are 26 or younger and five of whom are 21 or younger.

Filip Chytil is making nice progress after the New York Rangers called him up

It would have been very easy to put your head down and pout after being demoted. We have seen that before. But that was not the case with Filip Chytil. he started this season in the AHL but was called up to New York after playing just nine games with the Wolf Pack. The Rangers rewarded him with the opportunity to have consistent ice time, including time on the power play. This time he has taken full advantage of it  Last year he finished with 11 goals and 12 assists but struggled to play with consistency and also was a minus-22, worst on the team. This year he already has 11 goals and has been sometimes paired Brett Howden and Kaapo Kakko, forming what has been termed “The Diaper Line”. The twenty-year-old will be expected to demonstrate the leadership and maturity needed in order for this third line to continue making contributions for the Blueshirts.

The New York Rangers continue to be patient with Brady Skjei

The Rangers were expecting a lot from Brady Skjei after a promising rookie season in 2017-18. They did not get that from the young defenseman in the next two seasons. Instead, the saw an inconsistent, mistake-prone young player struggling to play up to his potential.  The turn around may have come when the Rangers traded for longtime friend Jacob Trouba. The two 25-year-olds have been a duo on the ice in the back part of this season so far. For Skjei, this has led to some improvement this season. This season he already has seven goals and has added 14 assists in 47 games and he has still been much better with his decision-making and in the defensive zone than he was in previous seasons. This needs to continue as many times the Rangers have suffered from poor decision making. However, it is time to reward the Rangers for the patience they have shown him in previous years.

Adam Fox making a case for Rookie of the Year

His move from college to the NHL has gone better than most have anticipated. Fox has shown a level of poise with the puck that was always evident at Harvard, and his average north-south speed has not been an issue thanks to good edges and anticipation. Fox moves the puck remarkably well, racking up assists and aiding in the transition game. He recently took sole possession of the team lead in power-play assists with 11. Fox is having an outstanding season with 27 points. The process of the maturing of young NHL players is keeping this kind of play up for the entire season, especially as the Blueshirts gear up for a playoff run.

 

New York Rangers Overcome Slow Start, Bury Avalanche

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers are getting into a bad habit of having slow starts to games. However, they overcame their most recent slow start and defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-3. In doing so, recently promoted goalie Igor Shesterkin picked up his first NHL victory.

Shesterkin Shines in Debut

Despite going down 2-0, Shesterkin showed resolve in only allowing one more goal after this. For the game, he stopped 29 of the 32 Colorado shots attempted. in earning the win, Shesterkin is one of only two Rangers goaltenders since 1979-80 who have earned a win in their regular-season NHL debut while playing at MSG. A solid debut for a young man who was quoted after the game as saying: “On the way to the arena my hands were shaking, I couldn’t even drink water. But as I stepped onto the ice, I felt everyone’s support and energy and it really helped me”  Head Coach David Quinn was quick to praise his goalie in post-game comments by saying he was impressed that he could  “To be mentally tough enough to pull himself together”.  Of course, this was due to the fact that J.T. Compher scored at 4:44 of the first period to give Colorado a 1-0 lead, and Nathan MacKinnon scored his 26th goal on a breakaway to make it 2-0 at 6:34. But to his credit, Shesterkin did not melt. he settled down after that, giving up just one goal on the next 29 shots. Igor Shesterkin became the fifth Rangers goalie in 40 years to win in his NHL debut. The others: Mackenzie Skapski (Feb. 20, 2015), Dan Cloutier (Jan. 3, 1998), Mike Richter (Oct. 19, 1989)  and John Vanbiesbrouck (Dec. 5, 1981).

Strong Offense Picks Up Soft Defense

The defense did not do a lot early to help their young goaltender.  The first goal was scored on a deflection and the second goal was scored on a breakaway. Not a great start to help out a young goaltender. But to their credit, the  Rangers bounced back.  Chris Kreider redirected a Ryan Strome‘pass through the five-hole on the power play to make it 2-1. Mika Zibanejad chipped in a loose puck from the slot under the arm of the Colorado Goalie to tie it 2-2.  Brady Skjei‘s huge slapshot from the blueline at 8:05 of the second period gave New York a 3-2 lead.  Colorado rebounded to tie the game but Strome’s fifth goal in the past six games gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead. Artemi Panarin added an empty-net goal to make the final score 5-3. So after some slow stretches, the Rangers’ studs are stepping up. Panarin has 10 assists and 12 points in the last six games. Strome has five goals and four assists in his last six games. Mika Zibanejad has 10 goals and 16 points in his last 12 games

The New York Rangers’ Doghouse is Open For Business

New York Rangers, Brady Skjei

New York Rangers head coach David Quinn might be beginning to show his frustration with the slow start to games the team has experienced in their last two contests.  People had noticed that during Thursday night’s game against Calgary that a couple of players did not see ice time for most of the third period. Hence being placed in Quinn’s doghouse, which is surprisingly defined in the Cambridge Dictionary as “a situation in which someone is angry at you for something you did or did not do.” The two most recent notables to experience this were Brady Skjei and Kaapo Kakko.

Skjei continues to struggle for the New York Rangers

Social media blew up when the television cameras caught David Quinn leaning over to assistant coach Lindy Ruff and appeared to tell him something to the effect that Skjei does not get any more ice time. Skjei continues to be plagued by turnovers, including a key one in which he tried to clear a puck, and it went right to the Flames’ Dillon Dube, who promptly found Derek Ryan, who scored the goal that made the game 3-2. The benching came in the last 10 minutes of the third period when Skjei was tagged what could have been described as a questionable penalty call. However, it was one of a handful of crucial penalties the Blueshirts took as they were trying to tie up the game.

Kakko’s Benching a Bit of a Surprise

Kakko had already picked up a goal and assist in the Calgary game, but the 18-year-old was whistled for holding at 12:08 of the final period and was benched. After serving the penalty, he did not see the ice for the remainder of the game. Puzzling more was that the line of Brett Howden, Filip Chytil, and Kakko dominated shift after shift for most of the contest. Now, we may also consider that something else was wrong with Kakko that Quinn did not share. It has been well documented that the youngster deals with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, and perhaps his playing time was influenced by this.

David Quinn is never one that has backed off from the tough love approach of trying to bring along younger players. Let’s hope that this approach will help more than it hurts their development.