The Ryan Lindgren injury will at least give him some much needed time off.

The Rangers are in one helluva slump right now. The team was never as good as they were in October and November, and they certainly aren’t as bad as they are playing now. All eyes are on the bottom six and a need to address the third line, but going under the radar is the Rangers defense pairs need a shakeup, specifically in that top-four that has been struggling mightily. This may be overshadowed by K’Andre Miller’s recent struggles, but it’s been something on our radar here for a bit.

This isn’t the first time we’ve brought up that the Rangers defense pairs need a shakeup. All throughout Gerard Gallant’s tenure we’ve been beating the dead horse that Miller and Adam Fox are the ideal top pair, with Ryan Lindgren shifting to play with Jacob Trouba. Two years ago, the thought was to get Trouba moving, as he’s historically had better numbers with a defense-first partner. Miller is not that.

Flash forward to this season, and the reasoning has flipped a bit. Miller’s struggles need addressing, and perhaps it’s time to see if Trouba still has those puck moving skills he showcased in Winnipeg before the Rangers acquired him.

Per Natural Stat Trick, the Miller-Fox pairing has been the Rangers best, and it’s not even close. However where this gets tricky is the Lindgren-Trouba pairing, which has historically been pretty terrible.

CF% xGF% HDCF/60 HDCA/60
Lindgren-Fox 51.52% 51.52% 11.91 10.61
Miller-Fox 64.66% 64.51% 13.92 8.54
Miller-Trouba 49.36% 48.33% 11.55 12.39
Lindgren-Trouba 41.62% 37.83% 9.73 20.68

As a reminder, using just numbers isn’t the best approach. There’s a lot to consider, such as assignments, coaching, and quite frankly, timing. Were they playing while the Rangers were slumping? Believe it or not, that does matter. Also sample sizes matter, as Miller-Fox (189:36 TOI over 3 years) and Lindgren-Trouba (98:40) have not been together that long, and certainly not in long enough stretches to develop chemistry.

What we do know, however, is Miller-Trouba has been wildly ineffective, especially over the last month. Miller’s struggles, at this point, are dragging the pairing. We do need to be sensitive to Miller’s situation, as there is clearly something going on we aren’t privy to. While we can’t address off-ice concerns, it may be time to prop him up on the ice to hopefully give him a nice jump start.

Perhaps Erik Gustafsson, when he’s healthy, can jump up with Trouba. Gustafsson has been a bit of a revelation this season and has certainly earned a spot up in the lineup. That would leave Lindgren-Schneider, which may appear to many as a demotion for Lindgren, but if it brings more balance to the force defense pairs, then would it hurt to try?

Get used to the Star Wars references, folks.

There’s certainly logic to the new pairs, even if it makes many uncomfortable. What we do know is the Rangers defense pairs need a shakeup, one of the few things that does need addressing before the trade deadline. It’s something that can be done now, at least when Gustafsson returns. If nothing else is working, why not try it?

The only thing we know for sure is that the Rangers are slumping, and even if the Rangers defense pairs need a shakeup, it’s not going to magically solve all their problems. The top-four have been together for the better part of three seasons now, and it’s tough to rebuild that chemistry with a new defense partner. But until the Rangers address their forward depth, which will certainly help, they can focus on getting their blue line straight.

The Rangers defense pairs need a shakeup, and with two bad teams –Anaheim and San Jose– coming up, now is the best time to do it.


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