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Rangers top defensive pairings set key for offensive turnaround

Rangers defense is key to turnaround
New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller (79) and St. Louis Blues center Brayden Schenn (10) in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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When they play a complete game, the New York Rangers look like one of the best hockey teams in the entire NHL. They are loaded with stars at almost every line and have one of the best goaltenders in the league. 

Yet, while the Rangers have struggled this season to find ways to win games, one group on the roster has picked up the slack to lead the league in their respective categories. 

It’s hard to imagine with their struggles this season, but the Rangers’ defensemen have moved into the top five in points tallied across the entire NHL. In their 5-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday, the defenseman core tallied four points, with two coming from former Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox. 

Other standouts like K’Andre Miller, Jacob Trouba, Ryan Lindgren, and Braden Schneider have all done their part to make the defensive group for the Rangers an offensive juggernaut. 

Each mainstay has yielded results in a way that has helped the team in some way. Lindgren has gone on a three-goal streak in the month of November, Schneider and Miller both played major roles in Monday’s comeback win over the Blues as well. 

Fox, on the other hand, is third in the entire league in points by a defenseman. The group as a whole has seen massive improvements offensively, but also on the defensive side where the Rangers have gotten to two straight wins for the first time since the middle of November. 

While luck hasn’t always been on the team’s side. The group knows that their luck may be about to turn. 

“I think just staying with it and knowing that those bounces are going to come and sticking to the program…I think we’ve hit the reset button off the ice and in practice with different ways we can bond a little more and get the results we want.” Miller said after Monday’s win. 

Part of the Rangers’ defensive prowess on offense has allowed New York to be second in the league with most players scoring at least five goals on the season. The balanced offense may not show out now in early December but will come to help the team if they were to make the playoffs. 

New York isn’t out of the woods just yet though. Future games against the Devils, Avalanche, and Maple Leafs are all on the docket for the next week. If they were to come out of those games victorious though, the Blueshirt faithful might be the team no one wants to play in the end. 

For Gerard Gallant, it all starts with his offensive-minded defense. 

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