The unheralded Rangers who might make them rethink their trade deadline needs

You knew the Rangers were ready for a physical matchup against the Flames at the Garden on Monday when Jakub Truba lowered the boom on an unfortunate Dillon dunk at 13:57 of the first period, but when the captain’s blue-line partner was ready to come. was His contribution to an unremarkable yet telling tableau minutes ago.

When Nazim Kadri took out Truba with a hard hit just 6:17 into the game, K’Andre Miller — who is not physically known — doubled Calgary’s lead before the game went to the other end of the ice. Tried to face the center.

It became an instantly forgettable story in a wild and crazy affair full of memorable moments that ended when Alexis Lafreniere scored in overtime to give the Blueshirts a 5-4 victory. But it sent an early signal that the team had put on their hard hats and were ready to go to work. It was an example of the team’s tough mentality that lasted 61:37 of hockey.

As my dear colleague, Molly Walker, wrote in Tuesday’s edition of The Post, it was a playoff-style night on Broadway. She was right. The match featured spectacular plays and thunderous hits from the troubadour, which created quite a stir. A clipback hit by Sammy Bliss on Milan Lucic sparked another brawl.

Milan Lusk #17 of the Calgary Flames talks to Sammy Bliss #91 of the New York Rangers after a first period hit by Blay at Madison Square Garden on February 06, 2023 in New York City.
Sammy Blais’ showdown with Milan Lusk not only helped the Rangers beat the Flames, but may have helped secure Blais’ spot on the fourth line.
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And the Rangers, 16-4-3 in their past 23 games entering the matchup, but just 3-2-1 in the immediate past six, responded with a meaningful team effort. If this was Game 1 of the 13-game evaluation period leading up to the March 3 trade deadline, the Rangers made a case for themselves.

To trade or not to trade

The game wasn’t all about the stars, though, as Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider set up Mika Zibanezad for a goal with a separate, brilliant, no-look backhand that spanned opposite ends of the rink. Feeds. It was also about the continued emergence of the swashbuckling Filip Chytil, whose charisma is blooming in concert with No. 72’s goal-scoring explosion.

Jimmy Vesey, who came into trial camp with designs on winning the fourth-line roster, complemented Zibanezad and Panarin with strong work in the corners and under the hash marks. It’s clear that head coach Gerard Gallant favors having a responsible 200-foot player on the right side of this marquee unit. That’s why Vesey, not Vitaly Kravtsov, is there.

It also raises an interesting question for general manager Chris Drury to ponder: Is Vesey solid enough at the position to give the Rangers a first-rounder and blue-chip prospects to bring in a big name? It doesn’t have to be four. Assume that the right wing is in place?

Jimmy Vesey #26 of the New York Rangers and Eto Lustarin #27 of the Florida Panthers battle for the puck during the second period at Madison Square Garden on January 23, 2023 in New York City.
Jimmy Vesey’s reliable 200-foot game has earned him a place on the right wing alongside Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanezad.
Getty Images

Bliss’ game could give Drury even more to consider. In his most impactful game of the season on his first night back from a conditioning assignment in Hartford, Blais was credited with three hits, including his big open-ice hit on Lusk late in the first period. It was a good start to the first round of auditions for No. 91 to save his job.

If Blais and a young Will Cuylle can provide physical, pace-changing, energy-injecting work on the fourth line, as they did on Monday, then Drury might be a valuable asset to the roster. There will be no need to.

(Oh, and by the way, why anyone would throw Max Domi into the mix as a potential fourth-line acquisition is beyond me. Domi has been a disappointment everywhere. proved detrimental to the .round, losing to the Rangers in seven games last year.).

Should the Rangers decide to keep the 21-year-old Coyle — whose 7:46 against Calgary represented the most ice time of his three-game NHL career — it’s possible to put Julian Gauthier on waivers. Can be placed if the object is to collect more. Cap space by taking the roster down from the current maximum of 23 players. Gauthier has earned a spot in the NHL, but he doesn’t fit the mold that Gallant is looking for in a fourth liner.

What is not broken does not need to be fixed.

With all the changes that have come, the Rangers’ top two pairings on defense have been indispensable not only this season, but since Trouba, Miller, Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren pieced together the quartet.

New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Truba, left, celebrates with defenseman Andre Miller (79) after a goal by Julian Gauthier during the third period of the team's NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks in San Jose, Calif. have been.  19, 2022.
The combination that Jacob Truba and Kyandre Miller have formed on defense since 2020 has made Gerard Gallant’s lineup decisions much easier.

Lindgren and Fox have been partners for 225 of the 237 games they have both been on the active roster and in the lineup since Lindgren’s return from the AHL Wolf Pack 10 games into the 2019-20 season.

The Miller-Trouba bond is even stronger mathematically, combining for 161 of the 167 contests the two have dressed for since Miller made his NHL debut in the 2020-21 opener.

That’s a 94.9 percent concordance rate for Lundgren and Fox and 96.4 percent for Miller and Truba.

“It makes it really easy,” Gallant said when asked if having the pair was a luxury. “I keep saying that we are very lucky that they have played together for so long.

“You could say K’Andre and Troubs struggled a little bit the first 25 or 30 games in goal-against, but they still played well, they played big minutes for us, they still played against top lines. “We feel good about them. We feel good about both couples.”

“You feel good when you can throw those guys on the ice,” Gallant added. “That’s what I think our strong point is on our team.

“There are a lot of good teams, but when you can throw defensemen on the boards all the time like we do, it makes a big difference for our group.”

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