The Rangers face a top 4 decision due to Ryan Lindgren’s injury

The Rangers face a top 4 decision due to Ryan Lindgren’s injury

The Rangers’ top four will likely look different out of necessity Sunday afternoon against the Red Wings. Ryan Lindgren, who was held out of practice Saturday with an upper-body injury against the Bruinshas declared himself doubtful to play.

That’s a rarity for a group whose top lineups have remained essentially unchanged over the past two seasons, but the choice before Rangers coach Gerard Gallant comes down to whether he prefers to keep K’Andre Miller and Jacob Trouba together or move Miler. to play alongside Adam Fox, with someone else, presumably Zac Jones or Libor Hajek, to Trouba’s left.

One option was ruled out by Gallant on Saturday: playing Braden Schneider with Fox and needing him to play next to him.

Miller skated with Fox for most of practice Saturday, though that came with the caveat that Trouba had a maintenance day.

Ryan Lindgren tackles Patrice Bergeron during the Rangers loss to the Bruins.
Ryan Lindgren tackles Patrice Bergeron during the Rangers loss to the Bruins.
NHLI via Getty Images

“Don’t go for the D today,” Gallant said.

So there will be some intrigue during warmups on Sunday, although the option of Miller and Fox playing together is tantalizing enough to warrant closer examination.

Per Natural Stat Trick, Miller and Fox have been on the ice together for 173:37 five-on-five since the start of the 2020-21 season and have a combined expected goals percentage of 51.82. More than half of that time, however, came in 2020-21, when Miller was a rookie instead of a top-pairing defenseman averaging 22:04 per game. The two also skated together in this year’s preseason against the Islanders, when Trouba and Lindgren sat out.

“I can sit on the bench and watch him do his thing 99 percent of the time,” Miller told The Post. “I think it would be great to have the experience to play with him. A very qualified player, we will make the most of it, we will have fun.”

The luxury of the Rangers’ situation is such that losing Lindgren means they’ll be playing Fox, the 2021 Norris Trophy winner, with Miller, who could contend for the honor in the future. Coaches like to say that there is no superior pair. Gallant can do it credibly.

“I’m not worried about that at all,” Gallant said of the ripple effects of Lindgren’s injury. “It’s not like K’Andre and Trouba are second fiddle to these guys. They’re a big part of our group. I put those four against anybody.”

Shaking things up out of necessity is never perfect. This situation, however, could help the Rangers, who have not been operating at the best of late. The 5-2 loss to the Bruins on Thursday at the Garden dropped their record to 6-4-2.

If this defensive shift comes to fruition, the biggest factor for Miller and Fox will be communicating with each other when they’re used to these things being automatic.

“When you play with somebody for that long, obviously there are little things where you don’t even have to talk,” Miller said. “It’s just talking without talking, really. You make eye contact and you know what the other person is doing. When playing with someone new, I always try to talk a little bit more, let them know where I’m at, where the pressure is.”

The Rangers aren’t sweating the possibility of that scenario. Instead, Fox echoed Miller’s language that it would be a rare opportunity to play alongside someone whose game he often admires from afar.

“You see what he does out there, the way he skates and the way he defends is also good,” Fox said. “I’m out there with him [Saturday]like I said before, a lot of communication and trying to feed off each other.”

Regardless of who Fox is with on Sunday, the only adjustment he will make is in his communication style, not his game.

“It’s not like you’re really going to change the way you play too much based on who you are,” Fox said. Over the last few years we have played with other partners. I think it’s nothing new for us.”

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