It’s time to get Adam Clendening into the lineup

November 29, 2016, by

adam clendening

Regression is miserable to watch, and we are going through that misery right now. As Rangers fans, you’d think we were used to this by now, having gone through the exact same thing last year. Even though this year’s team is vastly improved and still a playoff team, there are some major problems on the blue line that have not been addressed. If the Rangers are to succeed beyond a being a one-and-done in the playoffs, things need to change.

The good news is that we’ve seen Alain Vigneault already make one adjustment on the blue line. Remember top pairing defenseman Nick Holden? He wasn’t being put in a position to succeed. He’s now on the third pair, and has been significantly better in that role. It’s time to make those adjustments for the rest of the lineup. These aren’t major moves either, it’s just a simple matter of tweaks before a potential upgrade arrives.

First things first, Dan Girardi and/or Marc Staal are not getting traded. Nor are they coming out of the lineup for extended periods of time. I thought AV was on to something when he sat Girardi for Adam Clendening on the second half of a back-to-back to give the guy a break. He’s got a ton of wear and tear on him, and a break is good. But several back-to-backs later, no Clendo.

So let’s assume that Girardi isn’t going to get those breaks. It’s time to shift the focus on getting Clendo –who is young and a good overall puck mover/skater, if lacking in the defensive zone– some ice time. The next obvious candidate to get some rest is Kevin Klein, who has gone from sneaky-bad to bad-bad very quickly. He’s been having a lot of the same issues: out of position in the defensive zone, bad passes, slow, etc. But it gets exposed more because he isn’t scoring anymore.

We all knew the bottom would fall out sooner or later with Klein. The Rangers were playing with house money the last two seasons, and now it appears that Klein has finally become what we all feared: A slow defenseman on the wrong side of thirty. Klein may be dealing with some lingering injury issues, but at 31 years old, he’s going to take longer and longer to heal, especially if he isn’t getting any rest.

That’s where Clendo comes in. At this point, Clendo is likely an upgrade on Klein. It’s certainly not a guarantee, but at some point AV should be taking a step back and identifying what isn’t working. Sure, there are injuries, but that doesn’t explain why the Rangers are continually unable to generate any kind of controlled possession out of the defensive zone. That starts with blue liners who can skate and move the puck. Klein, unfortunately, has done neither this season.

Perhaps it’s just a short-term thing with Klein, and he will be serviceable down the stretch this season. But too much evidence points to him having finally hit the point of diminishing returns on his ice time. He’s simply not producing right now.

Clendo may not be the answer. But since nothing else is working, something needs to give. There is no harm in giving a 31 year old defenseman a night off to get the 23 year old defenseman some ice time. Perhaps rotate Klein and Clendo regularly, and then give Girardi a night off every now and then as well. It’s the best case scenario for a team that is slowing down mightily and needs a burst of speed.

"It's time to get Adam Clendening into the lineup", 5 out of 5 based on 16 ratings.
Categories : Players


  1. amy says:

    Adam should get a chance to play see what he has

  2. Agentsmith says:

    In his limited time clandening looked nothing like preseason version on pp. Oh wait it was only preseason competition. So while i think some change on d is good I’d hold the brakes a bit on him.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Stop the experiment before it starts? While enticing, I’ll go with the scientific method

  3. supermaz says:

    A.V. would never try anything that sounds so logical.

  4. James says:

    I agree on Klien and I thought they should have traded him while his stock was high…but Adam Clendening just isn’t that good.

  5. tyreeimagery says:

    i am sure that everyone else knows better than the coaches who see him everyday. To think that AV isn’t going with what he believes is his best chance of team success is insane. He knows what he has and is trying to make the best of what he has. I say leave it to the guy that has experience and success in this league to make the roster decisions, not the mob.

    • sherrane says:

      Give me a break. Everyone except A.V. KNEW McIlrath was the real deal. Now that Florida has a new coach, I’m sure we’ll see McIlrath in the lineup more than once a month!

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        If anything, McIlrath being traded and still not being used, especially by a coach (Gallant) who is widely known as a character guy, doesn’t do much to denigrate’s AV coaching IQ.

        While I disagree with tyreeimagery’s perspective, for the most part, I don’t particularly think you picked a good example to the table to counterbalance his point.

        • sherrane says:

          Sorry, my sarcasm may not have come out as I hoped it would and I agree with his post.

          McIlrath committed two turnovers on his first shift with the Panthers. I liked the strides he made here in the past two seasons and hope he has a decent career, but too many people here thought he was a legitimate NHL blue liner instead of the fringe player he is.

    • Rangers_Underscore says:

      AV will soon call up Glass to repeat last year.

  6. rich s says:

    Dont worry, coach AV will come up with a new, imaginative game plan to compensate for the loss of our 1st or 2nd best center and a key to the power play.

    On second thought its time to panic since AV’s only move is to change lines around again and maybe call up Tanner Glass!!!!!

  7. SalMerc says:

    Still trying to figure out what makes Clendening so deserving. Oh I see now, it is the utter hatred for Girardi, now I get it.

    Clendening is the 7th defenseman. He is there for an emergency, for an injury and to give others a rest when needed. He is NOT a PP specialist. He deserves as much playing time as Oskar does.

    Just because you have deep hatred for Girardi doesn’t mean Clendening deserves playing time. That is like me saying Oskar deserves some 1C time over Stepan. Wait a minute, that is not such a bad idea after all.

    • Chris A says:

      Clendening should get a look in Klein’s place. Girardi, to his credit, has stabilized his freefall. Klein has been terrible this year and has looked bad playing 3rd pairing minutes, that’s a really bad sign for Kevin. When Girardi was paired with Skjei on the 3rd pair for a couple games, Girardi looked very good.

      Ideally, the Rangers find a new D to plug into the top 4, Girardi finds a home on the 3rd pair playing 15-17 minutes a night, Skjei moves up to the top pair, and Klein to the press box.

    • Dave says:

      Way to read the post.

  8. Peters says:

    In a limited role like Dave suggests it makes sense to try Clendening to at least give Girardi and Klein rests, and to see if the young man gets better with some playing time. He made a couple of mistakes and also a few genuinely good pass plays when he was in early on. The same can be said of Skjei who had a pretty bad couple of games in some respects recently. That is to be expected with young players. I’d give him a bit of a try if I was Coach Pete… but I’m not. 😊

    • SalMerc says:

      They rested Monday. The Rangers gave up 2 goals, one off of a referee. Somebody get a forward to replace Zinbad. We scored NOTHING and had 2 powerplays with no shots. Me thinks Clendening is NOT the solution to any of those problems.

      Maybe Fast needs to play on the 4th line perhaps! Maybe Stepan/Nash/Vesey need to be reunited? Maybe Kreider/Zucc/Buch is a line that could work? Maybe you keep JT/Hayes/Grabner together? Just saying that it is the offense that was kept is check last game, not a total breakdown of defensive coverage.

      Fast/Jorris/Oskar/NewGuy/Pirri – I do not care.

      • Peters says:

        I don’t disagree on the forward lines. I thought Hayes with Miller and Grabner, and Stepan, Nash with Vesey were excellent combos. Mika’s injury has been pretty huge so things do have to be figured out.

        The thing that Clendening can do better than most of the Rangers’ Dmen is make a good breakout pass pretty consistently, which will help against the teams that clog the neutral zone and trap. No he isn’t Trouba, but I think he has some upside. A real good first pair right D would help the Dmen and the offense too.

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        Kreider/Zucc/Buch – who’s your pivot?

        • SalMerc says:

          I didn’t think that one through, did I. Make it JT and move Zucc to the 3rd line. We need a hero!

          Make a trade, bring up Boo, do something!

  9. pas44 says:

    teams are reviewing more tape on the rangers and breaking down the club more.
    these weaknesses were there but are now starting to show as the season progresses.

    I thought a rotation of the older D-men was going to happen this year, it hasn’t.
    I think the offense can carry this team until Zbad makes a return…


    • SalMerc says:

      Clendening needs to be first pair with Mcd. Nuff said.

      • pas44 says:

        more offensive line changes, I think AV is nuts!

        I honestly think he just can not deal with losing and explodes on the wrong players… causing issues up and down the team

        • rich s says:

          well said pas 44….exactly right….

          AV has idea what to do except to change lines and blame young players…….

          Its futile to think he could come up with a creative new game plan…..

          • Mockie shoontz says:

            Right Rich. You must know better than an NHL coach who’s been coaching for years and won plenty of games. And don’t bother telling me about the cup because you still need the players and some luck and health to go all the way. I think you and underscore and richter should call up Jeff Gorton and tell him how it’s done

            • Richter1994 says:

              Coach’s are above criticism? since when? it’s 2-0 canes BTW. this year very similar to last year at this time so far. if you’re happy with regular season wins then I guess AV’s your guy.

              • Lunch bag says:

                AV for president

              • Lunch bag says:

                There’s a difference between criticism and blaming everything on the same guy. When is someone gonna get on Kreider for not playing the way he played the first week? He’s done the same thing every year. We all see the D stinks pretty much but AV doesn’t exactly have too many options either.

              • Richter1994 says:

                The coach’s responsibility is to play the best players he has in the best situations. He hasn’t done that after the 2013-14 season IMO. So, different players, same coach’s flaws. So yeah, I blame the coach for a good part of the results but not all.

                That being said, how many gaffes does it take to see to get Girardi off the top pair and Klein out of the line up? Who has control over that? Continuing to do the same bad things does not change the result.

                You can disagree, I respect that but I give my reasons for my criticism.

              • Ranger 11 says:

                I think Klein should be taking a seat. I would like to see Clendening get a shot. Put Girardi on the 3rd pair of st least 2nd to give him a rest and have less chance of a breakdown. I don’t really blame AV for everything though.

              • Richter1994 says:

                No it’s not all AV’s fault but he’s a contributor.


                At least get G and Staal 3rd pair minutes if they’re going to play.

            • rich s says:

              So what changes, adjustments etc has he done in ANY playoff series that the team lost… specific…..
              what did he do when his highly favored team lost to the bruins????/
              what did he do when the favored rangers were losing tampa, two years ago or to the penguins last year?????????

      • Richter1994 says:

        I agree Sal.

  10. Richter1994 says:

    I saw the title to this article and my only comment is it should have happened weeks ago.

    • Richter1994 says:

      I really have been feeling the love lately, lol.

    • Dave says:

      Wow that’s a lot of thumbs down. I’m with you though. Based off the play of 5 and 8, it should be a three man rotation. Give the old guard a night off every three games.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Right Dave, I have become a “target” here and that’s ok, doesn’t sway what I see and my opinions at all.

        You have 3 guys on the D that can’t skate and keep up, that is a sure recipe for disaster in this skating NHL now.

        I said it from the beginning that once the goals stop then the D will be exposed. The Rangers’ record for scoring 3 goals or less is way under .500, even though they won last night.

        People here giving me thumbs down doesn’t change the facts on the ice. They are going to be in for a huge disappointment this season if the rangers do not “fix” the D. I won’t because it was inevitable once opponents started trapping the Rangers resulting in a much lower scoring game overall.

        • rich s says:

          Couldn’t agree more Richter……..once zib gets hurt, our power play and goals per game suffers…….as well as teams have seen the films on us and are making adjustments to their gameplans…….

          but I still am leading this post in thumbs down 20 -19!

          • Richter1994 says:

            Rich, no question that Zib had a major positive impact on the PP, but it’s up to the team to go a different route in the mean time.

            LOL, on the thumbs down but as long as we can disagree politely then it’s all good. 🙂

  11. ranger17 says:

    AV has no choice put to play G and Staal they are going nowhere for 3 more yrs . Can not buy them out of trade them so you have to play them . Maybe when Pronger Horton or Savard deals expire we can get a bottom Cap team to take one of them if we give them a draft pick