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Is Ryan Lindgren the most important New York Rangers player?

Rangers need Ryan Lindgren
New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider (20) celebrates his goal with teammates Ryan Lindgren (55) and Jimmy Vesey (26) during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Ottawa Senators, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022 in Ottawa, Ontario. (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press via AP)
AP Photos

It’s hard to put into words how important Ryan Lindgren has been to the New York Rangers this season. Even if the offensive numbers don’t stand out, his impact as one of the top defensive players in hockey has allowed New York to stay afloat throughout a frustrating first two months of the season. 

In the 22 games he’s played in, the New York Rangers are 11-7-4. In 98 games without the former second-round defenseman, the Rangers are a measly 35-47-14 according to Stat Muse

The records tell the story, but when looking deeper, the Rangers’ reliance on Lindgren is of even greater importance. Paired with one of the best offensive defensemen in hockey, Ryan Lindgren isn’t known for having an offensive presence. 

In his last three games, Lindgren has tallied five assists, propelling a struggling New York offense to new heights as they try to get past their struggling start. In his latest game, a 3-1 Ranger win, Lindgren had an assist on all three Rangers goals. When he isn’t on the ice, the Rangers seem to crumble under the loss of their top defender too. 

In New York’s 4-3 loss to Edmonton last Saturday, the 24-year-old helped the team jump to a 3-0 lead but had to leave the game in the final period due to an injury. Edmonton scored all their goals with Lindgren off the ice. 

It’s not the only time this has happened this season either. In a marquee matchup against Boston, the Rangers were holding serve into the third period but Lindgren ended up getting hurt and left New York scrambling and ultimately losing 5-2.

Ryan Lindgren’s impact comes both on and off the ice as someone who puts his head down and does the dirty work for a team full of stars. Yet as the season continues and the Minnesota native continues to stand out, the more prominent his role has become. 

Consider that Lindgren hasn’t been the only stalwart defender going through injury this season. Rangers’ captain Jacob Trouba has dealt with nagging injuries all season that has reflected his play according to his coaches. Because of this, Trouba’s usual linemate, K’Andre Miller worked exclusively with Braden Schneider in Wednesday’s win, while Trouba played with Zac Jones. 

It’s a small change and rather insignificant in the grand scheme of an 82-game season. But the fact that the Rangers knew to not touch their top defensive pairing is a large compliment to how both are playing.

When people think of the most important Rangers on this current roster, names like Igor Shesterkin, Mika Zibanejad, and Artemi Panarin come to mind. 

If he continues to play like this, it might be time to add the best defenseman’s name here as well. 

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