Jacob Trouba still struggling for New York Rangers

Jacob Trouba
Dec 9, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) during the game against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are playing well but captain Jacob Trouba still doesn’t appear to be 100% himself this season.

In Monday’s huge comeback win over the New Jersey Devils, Trouba was the culprit of two early turnovers that found their way into the back of the net. To be fair, while he was charged with three giveaways, Artemi Panarin matched his totals but deemed a hero for setting up the OT winner.

The same can be said for Filip Chytil, who was charged with two turnovers, but he set up the game-tying tally and scored the OT winner.

Even Adam Fox had an egregious turnover in the contest and a few bad reads in the game. However, Igor Shesterkin came up big in those spots and Fox is the team’s leading scorer on defense. That allows some leeway when he occasionally coughs up a puck here and there.

Jacob Trouba struggles

New York Rangers Jacob Trouba
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Trouba, 28, has only 8 assists this year. Despite leading the team in hits (98) and blocks (74), the struggles in both the offensive zone and defensive zone are obvious. And when you throw in his big contract at $8 million per season in the salary cap era, he’s an easy scapegoat for fans when things go bad.

So what’s the issue with the Rangers captain?

Some believe that the weight of the captaincy is what’s causing it. I don’t buy that for a single minute.

Trouba was expected to be named captain last season but Gerard Gallant, who was just coming in as a first year coach wanted to wait on making the decision. When it was finally announced this summer, his teammates were all unified in backing the organization’s choice.

“You’ve been doing the job for awhile now,” Chris Kreider said. “It’s nice to finally see that letter sewn on your jersey.”

Aside from his teammates wanting him to get the C, Trouba’s led in the locker room and on the ice. That became obvious in their humiliating loss to the Chicago Blackhawks where he tore off his helmet, threw it against the boards, and yelled as his team to wake up. Since that on-ice explosion, the Rangers are on a four game winning streak.

The issue, as it appears to me, is a nagging injury that seems to flare up from time to time.

It’s not fair to speculate exactly what it is, but since he seems to be skating well, a lower-body injury is unlikely.

Against Jersey, his two turnovers that led to Devils goals looked like he was trying to compensate for something. There’s been times in the defensive zone where he should easily eliminate his man on the boards but has struggled to do so. His big shot doesn’t appear to be as hard and heavy this season as well.

All of this is adding up to him trying to do too much on the ice to make up for whatever is ailing him.

Head coach Gerard Gallant already admitted that Trouba’s been dealing with nagging injuries, but the captain refuses to be taken out of the lineup. With the Rangers fighting for a playoff spot, it’s understandable. Plus, the medical staff would not send him out there if they believed he could worsen whatever the issue is.

The Blueshirts have five more games before the Christmas Break. Trouba and the team will get four days off to rest up. Hopefully, whatever is bothering the Rangers captain will heal and he can get back to being more like himself.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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