Thoughts on the Adam Fox injury

Yesterday was a rollercoaster of emotions for Ranger fans. In the first period, the Adam Fox injury worried everyone. In the second period, Filip Chytil went down with an injury. Two key players in big roles were gone for the game. The Blueshirts still won, of course, gutting out a “piss and vinegar” game. Now with the Jonny Brodzinski recall, we are getting an idea of how series these injuries may be.

As per usual, I have some thoughts.

Brodzinski recall shows coaching preferences early

1. Losing Chytil for an extended period of time is going to be a blow to the Rangers. Chytil may not have a goal yet, but his six assists in 10 games was 4th on the team in assists and 6th in points. He was also 3rd in assists and 4th in points among forwards. He’s a top-six center who was driving offense and opening up ice for both Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere.

Moving Vincent Trocheck up to this line will help, given this trio had good numbers last year in limited minutes. That isn’t the concern, at least not yet. But removing Trocheck from a very effective –albeit without an even strength goal– third line is going to hurt.

2. Recalling Brodzinski means the Rangers likely aren’t going to break up the 4th line. Peter Laviolette has indicated they are doing their jobs. While the fourth line is a minor concern from a puck possession standpoint, there’s no need to break up a line that has yet to give up a goal at even strength.

This means moving a player up from that line to temporarily fill in on the third line isn’t something Laviolette wants to do just yet.

3. If Laviolette leaves the fourth line intact, and that isn’t confirmed yet, we can draw a pair of conclusions from that decision.

  • Barclay Goodrow isn’t being viewed as a center. At least not yet.
  • Tyler Pitlick isn’t going to be an injury replacement unless a winger goes down. Again, at least for now.

This would mean Brodzinski skates on the third line, not the fourth. Again unconfirmed, but we can draw a line from this decision to Laviolette wanting to impact the lineup as little as possible. That means a quick center flip, and not a wholesale lineup change.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is usually a pretty flawed statement, but it applies here for now. Hopefully Chytil’s injury is temporary and there won’t be a need to shake up the lines.

The Adam Fox injury is a whole other story

4. The Adam Fox injury changes many things for the Rangers. This is the one that, if it is a long term injury, changes the trajectory of the blue line, the powerplay, and perhaps some expectations in the win/loss category. Even Colorado would struggle without Cale Makar. Injuries happen and they are no excuse, but it’s impossible to replace Fox in the lineup.

This is where we might need some wholesale changes in the lineup, especially if this is about playing the best players.

5. When Ryan Lindgren was out, the Rangers simply moved Erik Gustafsson up to the top pair with Fox and inserted Zac Jones on the third pair. That may happen again, with Gustafsson moving to RD and jumping to the top pair with Lindgren, but it does seem unlikely. With no recall, it looks like the Rangers are going to dress Zac Jones for his second game this season.

6. Assuming the Adam Fox injury leads to a few missed games, then we can only guess what Laviolette will do. I’m guessing he shifts Jacob Trouba up to play with Lindgren, and then shifts Braden Schneider up to play with K’Andre Miller. That would leave Jones and Gustafsson. It would give the two youngest defensemen –Jones and Schneider– an opportunity to play with a better partner.

This would also eliminate the risk of another Jones-Schneider pair being targeted on the road by an opposing coach, as Columbus did when Lindgren was out. Growing confidence is important for these kids, which means putting them in a position to succeed. Schneider has looked good alongside Gustafsson, so in theory Jones should be able to learn a few things from him too.

7. I do not think Laviolette will go path of least resistance in response to the Adam Fox injury, inserting Jones either into the top pair (foolish idea) or the second pair with Miller. Jones and Miller are too similar to each other. I believe there are only two options:

  • Lindgren-Gustafsson, Miller-Trouba-Jones Schneider, or
  • Lindgren-Trouba, Miller-Schneider, Jones-Gustafsson

There’s no wrong answer there.

8. Hopefully neither are out long term. Losing one of Fox or Chytil long term would have been a problem. Losing both is a major problem. Every team faces adversity. This is the Rangers first test of adversity. Let’s see how they manage.

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