Rangers Send Message Ahead of Playoffs

Photo: Reddit @ryannovo62

The New York Rangers have been loaded with high-end, skill guys for years now. Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox and Mika Zinbanejad are the poster children for that type of hockey. Panarin can stick-handle in a phone booth. Adam Fox is as smooth and patient with the puck and under pressure as anyone in the league. Zibanejad is a sniper and 200-foot player who has never had a fighting major in his career. Even Chris Kreider, despite his size and tenacity in front of the net, is known more for his ability to deflect pucks, speed by defenders and his hard shot than his physical play. Deploying these skill players night after night, especially on the power play, and backing them up with Igor Shesterkin has been a recipe for regular-season success.

But for the past 4 years, the Rangers have been in search of a little snarl to compliment their skill. As the calendar flips to April and especially when the playoffs get underway, the night-in and night-out intensity of NHL games changes. Teams that continually make deep playoff runs have more than just a handful of high-end skill players. They have a tenacity that they bring to the rink every night that can disrupt the flow of the game in ways that hinder the skill players. They can clog the middle, finish every check and thwart the east-west passes that dazzle in the regular season.

Sure, Jacob Trouba can punish a player who makes the mistake of carrying the puck with their head down. And Ryan Lindgren is almost inhuman in his ability to come back from and play through injury. But the Rangers have needed more. Barclay Goodrow can play like a pest, a la Brady Tkachuk, and signing him felt like a step in the right direction, though it hasn’t quite been enough. K’Andre Miller is big and tough, but his calm demeanor on the ice keeps him out of most fracases. Jimmy Vesey is an interesting combination of skill and willingness to mix it up, but he’s not a physically intimidating presence on the ice.

Instead, it has been players developed in the Rangers’ system that have stepped in to add some snarl. And the message sent to the league with last night’s line brawl with the New Jersey Devils: this is not last year’s Rangers. Matt Rempe is the most talked about addition in this regard, and he clearly has led the charge. But it started with Will Cuylle making the team out of training camp. All year, his physical play has helped make his line (whether it is the 3rd or 4th) an offensive contributor. When he plays on a line with Kappo Kakko, the Rangers have two big, tough wings who can handle the puck, finish checks and are willing to go to the hard areas of the ice.

The Rempe effect appears to have inspired others as well. In last night’s brawl, K’Andre Miller pummeled John Marino. If that is a sign of things to come from Miller, the rest of the league should take note. The energy that Cuylle and Rempe have brought to the team came at just the right time, and seems to be contagious. This is good news for Rangers fans who have high expectations for this team in the middle of their Cup window being wide open. It is definitely not good news for their playoff opponents, who will now have to contend with a more complete team. One with the high-end skill to beat you 6-5 and the snarl to punish you physically over a seven-game series.

ECF Game 1 Recap : Flukes & Lacking Production Ranting Rangers: A New York Rangers Podcast

In this playoff episode we recap the Rangers loss in Game 1 of the ECF.For more from us, visit Inside The RinkHow to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
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