Rangers have a common theme in early season battle with Dallas and Nils Lundkvist

Rangers fall to Detroit in Overtime
New York Rangers goaltender Jaroslav Halak (41) makes a save as defenseman Ryan Lindgren (55) looks on in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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The New York Rangers had nowhere to put Nils Lundkvist and everyone knew it. The former first-round defensive prospect of New York had requested a trade before training camp this season having been replaced on the depth chart by Braden Schneider. 

A first-round pick was acquired in the trade for Lundkvist, and the Rangers moved forward with their young defensive stalwarts in Schneider, Robertson, and the combination of Zac Jones and Libor Hajek. 

While Lundkvist has seen tremendous success early in Dallas, the Rangers on the other hand are looking for consistency from their third defensive pairing. 

“I thought there are things you can tell there’s a bit of growing pains getting back into it. For myself, I’d like to be a bit more assertive and a bit more physical and harder to play against.” Braden Schneider told AMNY on Friday. 

The 21-year-old first-round pick from 2020 has not been bad through the first eight games of the season for the Rangers. Schneider has blocked 10 shots, recorded 13 hits, and has clocked in an average of close to 14 minutes on the ice. 

Compared to the work that Lundkvist is doing in Dallas though there’s little comparison on who has started the season better. Lundkvist has recorded four assists on the year for the Stars, 11 blocks, and over 17 minutes of ice time. 

The work that Lundkvist is doing though hasn’t made an impact on Schneider or any of his linemates though. With an upcoming return matchup for the former first-round pick, it highlights the amount of former Rangers that the team has seen through the first week and a half of hockey. 

David Quinn, Alexander Georgiev, Dryden Hunt, Frank Vatrano, and Ryan Strome were all former members of the Blueshirts. All but Vatrano and Strome have recorded wins against their former team. 

It’s something that Schneider and the team desperately want to change. 

“We want to beat them.” Schneider pointedly said. “You don’t want to lose any games and it does sting a bit more when you see them celebrating because they are happy to beat us. I think we have the same mindset, take it to them hard and play our game.”

A key to the Rangers’ early season struggles has been a simple inability to score. New York is coming off a 3-0 shutout loss to the Islanders on Wednesday and are losers of five of their last six contests.

That doesn’t mean the team hasn’t played well though. The offensive units have put up over 40 shots over the last two games, and three times over their recent struggles. 

“You just keep working and keep doing the things you do and bear down a little more. You can’t get frustrated, we’re only eight games into the season, you just gotta keep working and stay with it. They’ll start coming in.” Gerard Gallant told reporters Friday. 

The consistency that Gallant has preached over the team’s recent struggles has rubbed off on the locker room and made players aware of controlling the things they can control.

“I think for myself, I just have to make sure my mind is where I need to be focusing…at least it’s making sure that not many goals are scored against.” 

For more New York Rangers news, turn to AMNY.com

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