Rangers not expecting to become bullies after Monday’s hit parade

Mika Zibanejad knows Rangers have a streak. He proved Monday night — to the tune of several helmet-launching, fight-sparking hits from Jacob Truba — that there’s a physicality to his game, perhaps hidden at times. That, if the right scenario emerges, they can be the initiator rather than the counter-taker.

But Rangers don’t necessarily want that to be their focus. Head coach Gerard Gallant said that’s not how the modern-day NHL works, and the physical provocation in the Blueshirts’ win over the Flames was more of an anomaly than a potential norm. Those three fights, and the minor, unpunished brawls surrounding them, happen “somewhat late” and “at such a high pace,” and Gallant doesn’t see the level of physicality repeated Wednesday against the Canucks. coming

“Balance is everything,” Zibanejad told The Post after practice Tuesday. “You don’t want to get on the wrong side of things, when you just focus on that, because there are enough talented people, enough good teams that will make you pay when those things don’t work. “

Jacob Truba
In Monday’s overtime win, Jacob Trouba tied the Flames’ Dillon Dube.
Getty Images

After Monday’s game, the Rangers tied for 11th in the NHL with 15 fights this year, according to HockeyFights. The Flyers lead by 25. Three teams are tied for the fewest with three. The Rangers had 18 last regular season — and 22, 21 and 25 threes before that, respectively. But in 2022-23, their battles have clustered. It’s not a one-here, one-there arrangement. Twelve of those 15 fights occurred in a five-sport sample.

For Trouba, Monday marked the second time this season that the captain has faced off twice in the same game. The second came on Dec. 3 against the Blackhawks, and his second concussion that night ended with Trouba skating toward the tunnel and whipping his helmet off the boards — drawing fire from the crowd and his teammates at the end of the second period. were trying to install A final loss of 5-3.

After that, though, the Rangers won 11 of their next 14 games.

“He’s a guy I don’t want to walk past when he’s on the ice,” Zibanejad said.

Trouba doesn’t seem to make hits like that against Calgary. But if those opportunities present themselves — like Dillon Dobb carrying the puck to his own blue line, or Nazim Qadri putting his head down to try to get to the Rangers’ net — he’s making it happen. will ensure that they complete the check with warnings. come clean and not incur a fine as a result.

Truba’s first hit, and fight, came six minutes into the opening period. As Dube tried to deke to his left, Truba drove into him with his right shoulder and knocked Dube into the ice. Calgary defenseman Chris Tanif then came in to defend Dube.

Jacob Truba
Jacob Truba tied Flames manager Kadri.
USA Today Sports

After the second hit, when Truba flattened Kadri and the star center’s helmet disappeared, the Rangers captain didn’t feel compelled to engage in another fight. He didn’t want to get ready, but engaging in multiple battles wasn’t something Truba had a “problem” with.

“It is not. [Trouba] He plans it before the game where the coach says, ‘We’ve got to make sure we finish this guy really hard,” Gallant said. “It’s just part of the game.”

Even Gallant was a little surprised by all the fighting. He was still sifting through it almost 15 hours later. The game against the Flames was “different.” He joked Monday night that maybe his players were “angry” that the 10-day All-Star break was too short.

Gallant called it the first time he was involved in a game of this caliber after taking over as head coach for the 2021-22 season. Even rookie Will Coyle joined in and logged his second NHL fight.

“I don’t think you see that a lot on our team,” Gallant said.

But, defenseman Ryan Lindgren added, the Rangers also showed they can replicate that style of play, too.

“I think it’s good for us that we know if things get out of hand or physical, we can deal with it,” Lindgren said.

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