Following Games 3 and 4, a very clear issue with moving the puck out of the defensive zone has emerged. The puck has been a grenade on most sticks, which has led to 65% of the game being spent in the Rangers zone. Something needs to change, and that answer may be with inserting Zac Jones into the Rangers lineup. Jones’ skill set simply addresses a big need without having a negative impact on their defensive zone play.

The Rangers haven’t really played their 12F (note: Rempe) in the third period, and Rempe’s impact has been relatively muted in this series. That’s not a slight to Rempe, it’s that Florida simply hasn’t responded to his impact. Given the fourth line doesn’t necessarily have a role and we start seeing an 11 forward rotation in the third period, scratching Rempe won’t have much of an impact on the rest of the lineup.

Even if the Rangers make some changes up front, it won’t change the defense’s inability to move the puck out of the zone. With Adam Fox playing on one leg, none of the Rangers defensemen have been consistently reliable in exiting the zone. While some systems changes can help, notably keeping third and fourth options low in the zone, it won’t help the panicking under pressure, or sometimes when not under pressure, but the Rangers defensemen.

Inserting Zac Jones into the Rangers lineup gives the Rangers another strong puck moving option. At best, Jones could rotate in for a combination of Ryan Lindgren and Jacob Trouba, the two consistently worst puck movers the Rangers have. Given both have been pretty rough in the defensive zone too, the Rangers may not lose much defensively while potentially gaining an additional outlet from the defensive zone.

Given the 11 forward rotation late in games, it’s not like the Rangers would miss much at forward. The thought process is to roll with Jones rotating in for Lindgren, Trouba, or both in specific situations, with Lindgren still remaining on in late game scenarios to defend a lead and to kill penalties.

This is most certainly an out of the box thought process that likely won’t happen, but Edmonton did this in Game 4 to tie the series last night against Dallas. There’s certainly merit to inserting Zac Jones into the Rangers lineup, as it addresses a big need and won’t really hurt them more on defense.


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