Rangers rookie Braden Schneider saw an opportunity and took it
The New York Rangers needed a jolt last night in New Jersey. They got in the form of a 20 year-old rookie defenseman, Braden Schneider.
Down 1-0 early, he stepped up and rocked Devils’ forward Jesper Boqvist. That led to Yegor Sharangovich rushing in to defend his teammate only to be beaten down and sent to the locker room for instigating. Schneider also gave him a parting gift of a knuckle-sized lump on his forward.
The hit and fight eliminated two players and started the Rangers rally that led to the eventual 3-1 win.
“I saw a chance to make a hit and I caught the guy pretty good,” Schneider said about his tide turning play. “I think Sharangovich came over and wrapped his hands around my head. I kinda just seen black and went fight or flight mode. I just started throwing.”
Braden Schneider seized his opportunity
“I’ve always liked to take the body and play hard,” Schneider said via the team’s YouTube channel. “I haven’t really had an opportunity to jump up and hit somebody like I did last game. It felt good to get it out of the way.”
What Schneider did should come as no surprise. Last season, he won WHL Defenseman of the Year making bit hits just like the one he landed on Boqvist.
“I saw a perfect opportunity and I just tried to go through him and keep it clean as possible,” he said.
Of course, when you deliver huge hits you can catch your opponent illegally. Which is what happened in 2020 at the World Juniors, where he was given a one-game suspension for a check to the head.
That obviously wasn’t the case on Tuesday night, and it was something his head coach recognized.
“It was a good, solid hit,” Gerard Gallant said via NHL.com. “He stepped up in the neutral zone and obviously we got the power-play goal off that, so that was huge for us. A little emotion in the game.”
Schneider, 20, has 9 points in 32 games during his first NHL season and continues to draw comparisons to fellow right handed defenseman, Jacob Trouba.
“When you see a young guy step up and make a play like that, you could feel the energy on the bench,” Chris Kreider said. “I think guys have been calling him Baby Trouba.”
After practice, Schneider was asked about his thoughts on the nickname.
“I tried to model my game after him,” Schneider said. “He plays the game hard and I think we have similar styles. It’s a compliment in every way.”
Trouba also spoke to the comparisons and in particular the nickname, to which he joked that it must mean he’s getting old. Funny coming from a 28 year-old.
The veteran is happy to help Schneider develop both on and off the ice, but was really pleased to see him step up with a big hit and then hold his own.
“I’ve heard (he had that in his game),” Trouba said smiling. “I haven’t seen it, but now I’ve seen it. I knew he had it in him.”
Oddly, Schneider has only had one fight in his career which happened in junior. Pretty stunning considering what a big hitter he is. Then again, he’s fairly intimidating with a 6-2, 210 pound frame and after how quickly he flashed his hands, I’m not sure there will be too many takers.
The Montreal Canadiens and Martin St. Louis will meet after the season to determine his future. Plus the Edmonton Oilers could make a play for Ville Husso and there’s been trade talk around Mark Scheifele. Read more.