Jacob Trouba is the maestro of the open ice hit

Jacob Trouba is having a fantastic season in his second year as New York Rangers captain. Everyone is aware now that Trouba has a passion for making art, but he is a maestro of the open ice hit

This past Saturday, the new Penn Station entrance was pleased to welcome the Trouba Train back to Madison Square Garden after a victory over the Philadelphia Flyers the night before. A successful Thanksgiving Weekend was capped by a hard-hitting victory over the Boston Bruins.

Despite a disappointing loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, the Rangers sit at the top the Eastern Conference standings with 31 points and a .775 points percentage. A lot of the team’s success begins with the leadership group and its captain.

“It starts with Jacob Trouba, who has been an absolute warrior for our team,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “That’s the captain of your team setting the tone.”

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Jacob Trouba is Leading by Example

NHL: New York Rangers at Winnipeg Jets
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Trouba, 29, has been an effective leader both on and off the ice. On the ice, he leads the team with 70 blocked shots, and average TOI at 22:45 per game.

The second year captain has been the true leader to help the Rangers sit atop of the Metro. Although only recording 8 points so far this season, Trouba is the epitome of a captain. With Adam Fox on LTIR, Trouba has taken an increased role on the blue line. He logged 27:36 in the win against the Flyers and he along with K’Andre Miller have been the shutdown pairing.

Against Boston, Laviolette praised Trouba for his resiliency while playing over 20 minutes in an extremely physical game. The bench boss credited Trouba’s physicality helping the whole team and mentioned how that trickles down to other players. The coach specifically cited rookie Will Cuylle, who fought Garnet Hathaway in Philly.

Trouba’s thunderous hits set the tone for the whole team over the weekend. In an eventful sequence against Philadelphia, Trouba was challenged by Nick DeslauriersĀ  to fight, but knew better. His value is on the ice and not in the box. The captain proceeded to deliver a wrecking ball hit on Hathaway on that sequence to let the Flyers know they wouldn’t be pushed around, which has been a theme all year thanks to the captain.

The Artistry of the Open Ice Hit

Tomas Nosek, Garnet Hathaway, Andreas Athanasiou, Timo Meier are just a few players that have been on the wrong side of the tracks when the Trouba Train comes rolling along.

Most importantly, all of these plays are good, hard, clean checks delivered by Trouba. It’s become a lost art that Trouba has mastered to become the league’s best open ice hitter.

MSG Analyst Steve Valiquette made sure to emphasize that Trouba’s hits are all clean and youth players should try to emulate Trouba’s technique of having their stick down, go shoulder to shoulder, and avoid contact to the head.

Despite the fact these hits are clean, what follows is the opposing team immediately challenging Trouba to a scrap. Sometimes, it leads to his teammates to get involved, like when Barclay Goodrow had to fight Hathaway after Trouba caught him clean. Last season, Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews also felt the need to fight Trouba after Athanasiou was on the receiving end of a clean Trouba hit.

And the song goes on and on for Trouba.

Trouba is one of the few players in the NHL who still practices the art of the open-ice hit, which was a staple of old school hockey that we don’t see much of today. Trouba’s clean hits should not have to be answered by an immediate tussle every single time. Of course, opposing team’s know that a fight takes Trouba out of the game for five minutes and he won’t back down from a challenge.

Last season, in his first year as captain, Trouba felt the pressure and struggled early on. As the year progressed, he proved to be the right choice. This year the Rangers are firing on all cylinders including big #8.

A lot of that has to do with the fear opposing players feel when he’s on the ice. Around the league players know they should keep their head up when Trouba is patrolling the blue-line. It takes off their game as they focus less on what they’re going to do on offense and more of where Trouba is in relation to it. And they need to, or else they may just become his latest masterpiece.

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