NY Rangers lines tonight: Ryan Lindgren returns

While much of the focus this trade deadline season has been on the 1RW and 3C positions, there might be a need for a shakeup in the Rangers top 4. Yesterday, 1L and 3L swapped wingers, and perhaps now is the time to split up the Lindgren-Fox and Miller-Trouba pairings.

Splitting up the Rangers top 4 is something that may be long overdue. We’ve theorized here for over 2 years that K’Andre Miller and Adam Fox may be better suited as a top pair, moving Ryan Lindgren down to play with Jacob Trouba. This would release Trouba a bit on offense, something that he hasn’t done consistently, and it also shields a struggling and probably injured Lindgren from top pairs a bit.

Rangers top 4 hasn’t looked good since January

While we had statistical evidence to show that Miller-Fox and Lindgren-Trouba performed well in small samples, the current iteration of the Rangers top 4 (Lindgren-Fox, Miller-Trouba) has normally been just fine, so there was no need to tinker. Lately though, things have changed.

Per Natural Stat Trick, all three defense pairs have struggled mightily since January. Peter Laviolette’s system is based on limiting high-danger chances against and winning that battle. All three pairs have been bad, with Fox-Lindgren leading the terrible ways.

Player TOI CF/60 CA/60 CF% xGF/60 xGA/60 xGF% HDCF/60 HDCA/60 HDCF%
Trouba-Miller 328 59.97 68.2 46.79% 2.36 2.64 47.21% 10.6 11.15 48.74%
Fox-Lindgren 305 53.32 59.62 47.21% 1.96 2.69 42.15% 8.66 12.4 41.12%
Gus-Schneider 221 62.56 58.21 51.8% 2.52 3.15 44.45% 10.88 14.42 43.01%
Fox-Miller 25 88.16 36.73 70.59% 3.53 1.1 76.29% 14.69 9.8 60%
Trouba-Lindgren 13 41.27 96.31 30% 2.67 2.83 48.55% 18.34 9.17 66.67%

Focusing on the Rangers top 4, neither pair has looked good. They are both sub-50% shares in high danger shot share, xG, and shot attempts. It’s actually quite alarming that they haven’t looked anything like their normal selves this season. There are many factors at play here like injuries, matchups, Lindgren’s cyborg parts malfunctioning, things like this.

This is in stark contrast to their numbers from October through the end of the year, which were far better. All three pairs saw their numbers tank recently, and it’s something that needs to be addressed. We do know the Rangers are scouting defensemen like Jeremy Lauzon, but it is more likely these targets are of the 7D variety, a bit of an insurance policy on Zac Jones.

The solution will need to be internal

Fixing the Rangers top 4 may be as simple as trying a new look. We’ve seen flashes of Miller-Fox and Lindgren-Trouba in recent games, and while the sample sizes are very small, it’s hard to ignore the major successes in limiting high danger chances against.

As a reminder, we focus on pairs within the system and how they work. The shot-share of Trouba-Lindgren is quite horrible, but again only 13 minutes and it seems most of those were low danger shots. If Lindgren-Trouba is the shutdown pair in the Rangers top 4 in this scenario, it’s a fine enough result.

There will be no reinforcements in the Rangers top 4, the solution will need to come from within. A shakeup is likely the best solution, and something that should at least be tried. If it doesn’t work, then they can simply go back to ole reliable and hope the bad play works itself out.

The good news, however, is that much of this K’Andre Miller bashing seems unwarranted lately. He and Trouba have easily the best high danger shot share and the lowest high danger chances against. They are doing their jobs. It was rocky for a bit, but they’ve rebounded quite nicely, and given their assignments, are doing quite well.

If there’s concern in the Rangers top 4, it’s on the Lindgren-Fox side of things. Lindgren appears to have fallen off a cliff this year, and the hope is that this is injury related. He’s in a contract year, and if this play continues, he has Dan Girardi/Marc Staal anchor contract potential. That’s a conversation for a different day.


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