Jacob Trouba and Ryan Lindgren giving Rangers defense needed snarl

As the NHL and many other professional sports entities have halted due to the Coronavirus outbreak, it leaves us hockey fans with time to ponder and look back at some of the things that have occured during the NHL campaign. This Rangers season has had many revelations and incredible findings so far. Some of the obvious ones being Artemi Panarin as a whole, Mika Zibanejad, the youth amongst others. The one that is the more refreshing of them all, is the grit and toughness that has emerged on the back end.

Over the years, one of the main concerns that have been raised on the Rangers defense is that there isn’t enough toughness, grit or snarl to go up against bigger and edgier opponents. The Rangers even went so far as to draft Dylan McIlrath back in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft to try and compensate for this problem. Obviously, that experiment failed exponentially and it left New York with this “lack of toughness” problem for some time after the fact.

That is until this season. Prior to the campaign, New York sought out to try and remedy this problem. In building this new idea for the defense, the beginning stage was to acquire a veteran defenseman who was not only offensively capable, but can hold his own against bigger and tougher opponents for long periods of time.

Jacob Trouba

On June 17th, 2019, New York acquired Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Neal Pionk and the 20th overall pick.  Coming in at 6 foot 3 inches, Trouba was seen by the organization as a number one defenseman as well as someone who can provide some grit on the back end. The Hockey News describes Trouba as “someone that has tremendous shutdown ability, mainly due to a big frame, an aggressive attitude and physical toughness.”

New York sought this kind of rugged, tough yet capable defenseman and his play in Winnipeg was evident of that. While he hasn’t put up the same offensive numbers he notched in Winnipeg, Trouba has been a breath of fresh air, not only in the defensive aspect, but in the toughness aspect as well. Always down to make a hit, Trouba doesn’t shy away from physical contact. He’s also not shy from any confrontation as well.

Ryan Lindgren

While Jacob Trouba is one to bring the heat on the back end, another defenseman is adding to that quota as well. Ryan Lindgren was recalled in October of 2019 and has solidified a spot on the roster since. Just like Trouba, Lindgren is not only a highly skilled and competent defender, but can also bring the heat to the opponent as well. In a previous piece for Forever Blueshirts, I pointed out Lindgren’s rough and physical play as something good for the Rangers.

His compete level adds to his snarl and overall tenacity on the back end of the ice. Although he won’t light up the scoreboard, Lindgren is seen as a reliable stay at home defensemen with some mobility in his legs and an edge to his game.

Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren shining bright for Rangers/Forever Blueshirts

A high intensity player with an edge, Lindgren is adding to the toughness quota as a support to Adam Fox on the second defensive pair. In another similarity to Trouba, he is not one to shy away from confrontation. In numerous instances this past season, Lindgren is always seen in the middle of scrums and attempting to use his body to make a solid body check. In some cases, he seems to stir the pot more than Trouba, which is something we haven’t seen from a young Rangers homegrown defenseman in quite some time.

All in all, Trouba and Lindgren have breathed new life into this Rangers defense. Two guys who are willing to step up, take a hit and be physical is something this franchise has lacked in sometime. What makes this even better for the Rangers is that both defenseman are highly skilled and can play in numerous spots in the lineup. Versatility, toughness and grit. New York will benefit from these two for years to come.

This is a new day for the Rangers. These are the fruits of the rebuild coming to fruition and it’s a pleasant sight to see all around, even if that means taking a few hits on the boards!