January 19, 2019

Rangers defenseman has been solid in first NHL games

USA Today
AP

With the injury to Fredrik Claesson keeping him out of the lineup for a couple of weeks, the New York Rangers have given rookie prospect Ryan Lindgren a shot up in the big leagues. Wearing number 55, Lindgren has played in the last two games for the Rangers, helping them earn wins against the Carolina Hurricanes and Chicago Blackhawks.

Lindgren was originally drafted by the Boston Bruins but was traded to New York in the Rick Nash trade last year. He has the potential to be one of the Rangers’ “defensemen of the future” but will have tough competition to beat out.

Lindgren has looked solid in his first couple of games. It was a smart move by Head Coach David Quinn to pair him with Kevin Shattenkirk. Lindgren, being the defensive-defenseman that he is, has allowed Shattenkirk to become more involved in the Rangers’ offensive efforts. Despite a -2 rating and zero points thus far, the rookie has showed his ability to keep up with NHL caliber forwards and defend his zone.

One key to Lindgren’s development will be his physicality. Lindgren is known for being a hard-hitting and physical defender. This style is great for lock-down defense, but he is going to have to adjust to laying the body on NHLers who are bigger and stronger than what he is used to. Take a look at this example.

Lindgren finds himself at the front of the net next Hurricanes’ forward Warren Foegele. Foegele is obviously trying to screen Henrik Lundqvist to allow a shot from the point to get through. The shot was ultimately tipped in past Lundqvist through heavy traffic at the front of the net. Lindgren has to be able to use his body on that play. Once Foegele meandered in front of Lundqvist, it is Lindgren’s job to force his opponent away from the crease and prevent a goalie screen. The two jostled for about a second, but nowhere near enough to prevent the screen. Moving forward, Lindgren must learn to use his body and throw his weight around in front of the net.

Besides a defensive mishap, young Lindgren has looked very solid and may earn more time even after Claesson returns, should he keep up his solid play. He even showed a couple of flashes of offensive prowess, carrying the puck well into the offensive zone to attempt to create chances.

Rangers fans should continue to be excited about this young defender. He was a highly coveted pick out of the NCAA and has the potential to make a name for himself in the NHL. It will be interesting to see how the Rangers handle him once Claesson returns. Regardless, he has a good couple of weeks to prove to management that he deserves to stay up in the city for the remainder of the season.

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