When it comes to Ryan Lindgren, his actions often get overshadowed by the incredible Adam Fox. Fox, a Norris trophy winner and a star defenseman in the league, definitely deserves the attention he gets. But the fact of the matter is this: he couldn’t do what he does now without the support of his trustworthy LD Lindgren.
Ryan Lindgren has been the glue that holds the Rangers together ever since he was acquired in the Rick Nash deal. It’s not hard to see why – he consistently makes a total effort to stop the puck from going into the net, whether it is the regular season or the playoffs. The Rangers are worse when Lindgren is out of the lineup, and I don’t think you’ll find much contention on that issue.
On Saturday afternoon, when the Capitals and the Rangers played, Lindgren was hit hard into the boards by Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie. There was no malice in the play, but Lindgren went into the boards awkwardly and came out of the play slumped over. There will be no speculation on the injury, but suffice it to say it did not look good for the Rangers. For the rest of the game, you could feel his absence heavily.
Simply put, the Rangers are better with him in the lineup. With Lindgren, they’re 146-80-25 in 251 games. Without him, they’re 35-48 in 98 games.
While Lindgren doesn’t produce much offensively, he makes up for it in spades with his tremendous defensive play. Lindgren has been anchoring the blue line ever since he was put with Fox, and he’s one of the more underrated defensive defensemen in the league. He repeatedly makes those defensive plays to knock attackers off of the puck or stop them from entering the zone. He forces players to work to the outside to get a shot and is not afraid to throw his body in front of the net to prevent a goal. Every team wishes they had a Ryan Lindgren.
When it comes to analytics, they are no different. His defensive WAR is almost always at the top of the league, and he excels when it comes to getting the puck out of the zone; in fact, this year, per JFresh’s Microstat Player Cards, he is in the 100% percentile for exit success rate. That means he’s better than nearly all players in the league at exiting the zone. That’s something you don’t easily replace.
If Lindgren is out long-term, that would be disastrous for the Rangers. They immediately get worse, and unless Ben Harpur or Zac Jones can reach another level in play (perhaps Jones can), Fox is left without a trustworthy partner. Even further, if the addition of Patrick Kane works out, then the Rangers will be defensively worse than they started out this week. Time will tell if Lindgren is only out short or long term, but all Rangers fans should be concerned about that.