The emergence of Ryan Lindgren has changed the Rangers blue line
Ryan Lindgren burst onto the scene last year as a rookie for the Rangers. He was solid, if unspectacular, paired with fellow rookie Adam Fox. The pair quickly became the Blueshirts best pair. Lindgren was not the typical hard hitting defenseman though, he was a great skater. At the end of last season, the question was whether he had the puck skills to survive without Adam Fox as his partner. This year he’s proven he can. And he’s changed the blue line’s direction. It’s hard to argue that Ryan Lindgren is a key cog in the Rangers future on defense.
Left defense was a question coming into the season. Lindgren had to show he could take the next step forward. K’Andre Miller had to show he belonged. Neither has been perfect, but both have stood out. Lindgren has shown even more offensive prowess than expected, with nine assists so far this season. Beyond the points, he’s showing he has the puck skills to do more than ride Fox’s coattails.
A true two-way defenseman
The impact Lindgren has had this year is profound and beyond any expectation. We knew he was solid defensively, but this is a net 11% positive difference with Lindgren on the ice. That is significant. Offensively, the Rangers have a whopping +22% increase in expected goals with him on the ice. Both are improvements on last year’s numbers.
Lindgren leads all defensemen on the team in CF% (51.41) and is second to Fox in xGF% (57.01). He gets these numbers with a team leading 2.46 xGF/60, and a second to Fox 1.8 xGA/60. He’s been a true two-way defenseman. When you add that physicality to his game, he’s a one of a kind defenseman that the Rangers haven’t had in a long time.
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) March 20, 2021
Without Fox, still producing
The question though, was how he does without Fox as his partner. We all know Fox is something special and will be in the Norris conversation for years to come.
This is where we truly see the importance of Lindgren and how much he has improved since last season. Last year he struggled without Fox. This year it’s much different. Lindgren is good in his own right, and gets better with Fox (who doesn’t?).
The driving factor here is that he makes most Rangers skaters better when he is on the ice with them. His calm presence with and without the puck resonates with this team, and you can see that in the team’s performance and body language when he is out there with them.
Ryan Lindgren’s emergence has helped solidify the left defense, and has potentially made him an indispensable part of the Rangers future. He may be defensively oriented, but he’s solid in every facet of the game. In time, he could be that true 1LD the Rangers have been searching for.
Charts per hockeyviz.com.