New York Rangers best remedy for recent woes is a full lineup

Artemi Panarin
Feb 11, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) celebrates his goal with left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) and center Vincent Trocheck (16) against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have struggled of late losing two in a row, and have just two wins in their last eight games (2-5-1). So why have the Rangers played so poorly? There are a number of reasons but for the most part it comes down to one major factor that’s had a domino effect; playing shorthanded.

Now to be clear, I don’t mean the team is taking too many penalties. Since the first period against the Washington Capitals, when Ryan Lindgren injured his shoulder in the opening period, the Rangers have not had a full lineup by force or by choice.

In their next game, a win against the Los Angeles Kings, the Rangers chose to play only 11 of their 12 dressed forwards, and 5 of their 6 defensemen. That was reduced to 4 blue-liners once K’Andre Miller was ejected for spitting and consequently suspended for three games. This was all done in order to safely send down Braden Schneider and Ryan Carpenter in order to fit in Patrick Kane under the salary cap.

The Rangers traded for Kane a day prior to their match against the Philadelphia Flyers, but he wouldn’t arrive in time for the Rangers OT victory. Things were starting to look up with 12 forwards dressed versus the Ottawa Senators but it didn’t last long. Tyler Motte was leveled with a high hit early and has been out since.

It all came to a head against the Boston Bruins on Sunday, where the team looked out of sorts and exhausted by the third period for another loss.

New York Rangers need a full lineup

vladimir tarasneko new york rangers
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers are back at practice today after having two full days off to recuperate. It will also be the first time Kane will get reps with his new linemates and power play unit.

While this is all necessary work, it would be meaningless if the team doesn’t have a full lineup when they visit the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

K’Andre Miller’s suspension is over which gives the team six available defensemen. The status of Ryan Lindgren is unknown, but it would not shock me if he suited up today in a non-contact jersey. Regardless, there’s no need to rush him back now.

Up front, the Rangers should qualify for an emergency call up of a player that makes $850,000 or less. Ryan Carpenter ($750K) is the most likely candidate. Will Cuylle ($828K) is also a possibility, as is Jonny Brodzinski ($762K) and Jake Leschyshyn ($766K).

Update: Rangers recall Jonny Brodzinski

You can’t underestimate the impact that a full lineup will have for the Rangers down the stretch.

It will be nice to see the forwards and defensemen not scrambling with line changes. It will be nice to see the new line combos get consistent reps with one another, and it will be nice to see players with energy in the third period.

Rangers in a good spot

Per the website Money Puck, the Blueshirts have a 94.6% of making the playoffs. Here’s even better news, their strength of schedule has eased up after playing the Boston Bruins according to Tankathon.

With 19 games remaining, the Rangers have five games left against real tough opponents (Carolina 2, NJ 1, Toronto 1, Tampa Bay 1). Eleven games are also against teams that are currently out of a playoff spot with three games against bottom feeders Columbus (2) and Montreal (1).

If you’ve done the math and wondering who the three games remaining are against, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hold the last wild card spot. Those will be key matchups for both teams.

The Rangers’s focus for the last six weeks of the regular season should be all about getting their game down for what everyone expects to be a long postseason run.

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