Nick Bonino a key component to New York Rangers lineup

NHL: Boston Bruins at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Bonino Bonino Bonino! Nick Bonino finally scored his first goal as a member of the New York Rangers in an electrifying 7-4 win over the Boston Bruins last Saturday. It was a great moment for Bonino, who has been one of the Rangers and NHL’s most underrated forwards this season.

With only two points on the year to date, it can be hard for the average viewer to understand why Bonino is having a great campaign thus far with the Blueshirts. What has made Bonino so valuable is the work he does that will not get recorded in the form of points. His value has come in the form of blocked shots, faceoffs and excellent penalty killing. He manages to do all of this from a bottom-six role with a limited amount of ice time, having played on the third and fourth lines this season.

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Nick Bonino integral member of the Rangers

NHL: Boston Bruins at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Through 21 games this season, Bonino has registered 50 blocked shots, which ranks him 21st in the NHL. The 20 players above him, are all defensemen. Amongst forwards, Bonino ranks 1st in the league, and it’s not even close. The 2nd place forward in blocked shots has only 31, which is held by Boone Jenner.

Meanwhile, Jenner averages 19:29 minutes of time on ice per game. In contrast, Bonino has 19 more blocks, while averaging only 11:59 minutes of time on ice per game. New York ranks 7th in the league in blocks this season, largely due to the efforts of Bonino.

Bonino has also been an incredible help in the face-off circle this season. This is an area the Rangers desperately needed to improve on from last year. He currently holds a 54.8% win percentage, just past his career best of 54.3% which came in the 2017-2018 season. As a team, the Rangers are currently leading the league in face-off win percentage with a 55.9% win rate. Last season, New York finished 20th in this category.

It is very helpful to have someone like Bonino winning faceoffs in a bottom six role. They are typically deployed in defensive zone or shorthanded situations. Gaining puck control in these situations is crucial and will allow teams to spend more time in the offensive zone.

Bonino has also been a key component to the Rangers’ penalty kill. He has been a mainstay within the penalty kill units this season. His face-off percentage and blocked shots have played a significant role in this aspect. His efforts have once again contributed to the larger success of the team in this light. Currently, the Rangers sit 7th in the league in penalty kill percentage at 85.7%. Last season, they ranked 13th with a 81.2% rating.

“They were fantastic,” said Peter Laviolette on the Rangers penalty kill. “They blocked so many shots and sacrificed themselves like that, it gets frustrating when you can’t get your shot through on the power play and so we have to give the penalty killers a lot of credit.”

So, while he may not find the scoresheet very often, Nick Bonino has proven to be one of the depth players that does just about everything else. These players are needed when pushing for a Stanley Cup, especially come playoff time. Bonino knows a lot about this as he was a large part of the Pittsburgh Penguins back-to-back championships.

Credit Chris Drury for signing Nick Bonino this offseason. Amongst his other great offseason acquisitions, Bonino has done an outstanding job so far. He solidifies the Rangers depth at the center position and has stepped up in a large way in Filip Chytil’s absence. His efforts will certainly be required as the season moves along and the points become more valuable.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

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