On the wrong end of Jacob Trouba’s big shot on Saturday night, Blackhawks center Andreas Athanasiou found himself trying to hurt the player.
With their team trailing 3-0 in the second half, Rangers saw their captain look to provide a much-needed spark.
Trouba’s hit on Afanasiou didn’t lead to a comeback win over the Blackhawks, just a 5-2 loss as the Rangers went 1-4-1 in their last six against the Blue Jays on Monday. ‘yinda collided. But it got his teammates to take notice.
“It sends a message to the whole team that we have to wake up a little bit and play better,” defenseman Ryan Lindgren said before the Rangers’ win over the Blues on Monday. “Seeing him so passionate and so fired up is a spark for our team. I think we did a better job in the third of playing with a little more passion.
Athanasius, on the other hand, was less than pleased with Trouba, questioning his reputation in the process.
“This guy is known for high shots, doesn’t care about the puck out there and almost tries to hurt people,” Athanasiu told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s his game; he does so. He’s an 8 million dollar man with no goals, so he has to figure out what to do with all that money. “If you can’t help the team, I think you try to hurt guys on the other team.”
The Rangers had just turned the puck over in the offensive zone when Athanasiou scooped it up and rolled up the ice. He took a few steps with the puck before Trouba crossed the blue line and leveled it with his right shoulder, sending Afanasiou flying to the ice.
Lindgren, who released Afanasiou’s comment on Monday, called it “absurd.”
“The guy is going down the middle of the ice with his head down and Troubs has a very clean, legitimate shot,” Lindgren said. – Yes, I don’t know what he meant by that. But that’s just part of the game. Big hits are part of the game. Especially with Troubs in there, if you put your head down, he’ll make you pay.
A nice hit led to several at-bats, including Jonathan Toews going after Trouba, who dropped the gloves for the second time that night and the third time in two games after the Rangers had no at-bats in the first 24 games. threw a glove.
Trouba then flew off the ice for a five-minute fighting penalty and threw his helmet into the boards.
“It had to be done last night,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “He felt our team was flat and I don’t blame him one bit. He is the leader, he is the captain, he is disappointed by the defeat. So he went out there and had a big, clean shot and fight. But things happen. He showed little emotion, and that’s okay. A coach likes it when you see it. I’m not a guy that’s looking for a fight every night, but that level of competition rubs off on your teammates.”
The NHL agreed with Gallant and Lindgren’s assessment that the 6-foot-3, 209-pound defenseman was a clean hit, with no fines or suspensions.
Trouba has been on the receiving end of some big and often controversial open-ice hits in the past, drawing criticism from opponents, including on Sidney Crosby in last season’s playoffs.
But the message he sent to his embattled team on Saturday was clear.
“He’s our captain, he’s our leader,” Lindgren said. “He leads by example. When you saw him make that shot and the fight after that, the way he played the whole game, you could tell how much it meant to him and how passionate he was. It was a wake-up call for our team. It’s just who he is and what he gives. We have to make sure we answer the call.”