It hasn’t been the easiest start to the season for Jacob Trouba.
Battling injuries and his first year of captaincy, the 28-year-old defenseman has struggled at times under the mounting pressure that comes from being the leader of a championship-caliber team in New York City.
But even as the calendar flipped to 2023, Trouba’s game improved, and with it, the Rangers’ wins began to pile up. It’s easy to see how his fiery attitude has altered the course of New York’s season, but the captain’s impact on the current club was probably the clearest on Monday night.
In New York’s 5-4 overtime win over Calgary, the former first-round pick didn’t record a single point. But his two bone-crushing hits on Calgary forwards shot a major dose of adrenaline that coursed through Madison Square Garden, and ultimately led to the Rangers’ win.
“Couple of big hits, couple of fights, he can always get us going. It’s good to have him.” Alexis Lafreniere said of Trouba after the win.
Lafreniere and his fellow Kid Line partners all played a major role in New York’s win. But even they understand the importance of having Jacob Trouba on the ice.
“He can always find the body of the player. That’s his game. It’s helping us a lot. He’s an unbelievable player for us, very important.” Filip Chytil explained.
Trouba’s importance comes when the Rangers need him most. His physicality matches the overall speed of the team really well and it makes the entire club a matchup nightmare for some of the better teams in hockey when they are playing up to their potential.
Calgary, being a team that plays physical at all times, clearly took offense to the way Trouba’s hits were landing. Even though the NHL reviewed the hits laid out in Monday’s game and saw they were legal, the Flames took to fighting the Rangers on three separate occasions after hits were laid out.
Fighting Jacob Trouba once in a game isn’t a very good idea. Fighting him twice? You’re just asking for trouble.
“It’s a shame you have to do it every time you throw a hit. He hit Kadri pretty hard. I understand standing up for your teammate but I feel there was a little bit of an overreaction.” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant explained afterward.
The numbers don’t always show a player’s impact on a team. For Jacob Trouba, his mix of toughness and physicality is exactly what a young Rangers team like this needs. And with him as healthy as he’s been all year, it’s clear New York is hitting its stride when they need to the most.