Rangers’ Ryan Lindgren roster gamble just might pay off

There’s been a fair amount of chatter regarding the Rangers’ decision not to place Ryan Lindgren on long-term injured reserve following the left shoulder injury he sustained in Washington on Feb. 25, when he was railroaded into the wall by T.J. Oshie 8:11 into the first period.

If general manager Chris Drury had taken that step, even retroactively a couple of days later, the Blueshirts would have been able to recall a defenseman after K’Andre Miller earned a three-game suspension for spitting at LA’s Drew Doughty 16:37 into the first period at the Garden the following night.

In that event, the Rangers would not have had to play their past four games short a defenseman. That includes a Feb. 26 match against the Kings in which the team dressed Braden Schneider, but kept him on the bench throughout in order to protect against injury in advance of a Patrick Kane-related, cap-clearing, brief demotion to AHL Hartford.

Indeed, had Lindgren been placed on LTIR, the Rangers would not have had to play short at all following No. 88’s acquisition, as they did in Philadelphia and Boston, and at home against Ottawa when the NHL denied their petition for emergency relief.

New York Rangers right wing Patrick Kane (88) during the first period when the New York Rangers played the Ottawa Senators Thursday, March 2, 2023 at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, NY.
Patrick Kane’s arrival, combined with Ryan Lindgren’s injury and K’Andre Miller’s suspension, has left the Rangers with a short-handed roster.
Robert Sabo for the NY Post

The team would have had an extra, temporary, full-season $2.9M with which to work. They could have gotten Kane a day or two earlier. They also would have been able to play with a full deck of forwards against the Kings instead of bubble-wrapping center Ryan Carpenter on the bench for all but the 13 seconds it took him to get from the penalty box to the bench after serving Miller’s five-minute match penalty. Much, if not all, of the disruption of the past week would have been avoided.

So let’s talk about this.

Had Lindgren gone on LTIR as of Feb. 25, he would have been ineligible to return for at least 10 games and 24 days, per the CBA. That means he would have been sidelined from Feb. 26 through at least March 21, a stretch with 12 contests on the schedule.

The severity of Lindgren’s injury is not known, but the Rangers’ medical team presumably diagnosed the issue properly and reached the conclusion that the club’s top-pair left D would not be sidelined that long. So far, it has been four games without No. 55 even if it somehow seems like 40 (a value reminder for those making the decisions about how to deal with next season’s impossible cap dilemma).

It is unclear whether Lindgren will be able to rejoin the team for practices Tuesday and/or Wednesday in advance of the team’s challenging trip to Montreal, Buffalo and Pittsburgh that commences Thursday, but The Post has learned the 25-year-old has been skating on his own for the past few days. That is encouraging.

Ryan Lindgren #55 of the New York Rangers skates the puck in the third period against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden on January 23, 2023 in New York City.
Out the past four games with a shoulder injury, the fact Ryan Lindgren is skating again offers hope he could return in time for the Rangers’ trip to Montreal, Buffalo and Pittsburgh.
NHLI via Getty Images

If Lindgren can return during the trip, that would mean he would have missed four, five or six games as opposed to a mandated dozen had he been placed on LTIR.

If he is sidelined throughout the trip, that would extend the absence to seven games, but he would be eligible to return for the ensuing five-game homestand that begins on March 14.

If on LTIR, he’d be compelled to miss all of those tilts, as well, eligible to return on March 23.

Again, there is no reason to question the Rangers’ medical team. The hierarchy must expect Lindgren to return in a timely manner. If somehow his absence stretches to nine games or more, there would be reason to question Drury’s decision not to put the defenseman on LTIR. But not until then.

And that is not anticipated.

Filip Chytil’s dirty dozen

New York Rangers center Filip Chytil (72) takes a shot on goal during the first period when the New York Rangers played the Seattle Kraken Friday, February 10, 2023 at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, NY.
After enjoying one of the hottest goal-scoring stretches of any Ranger this season, Filip Chytil has struggled of late, failing to put the puck in the back of the net in 12 straight games.
Robert Sabo for the NY Post

The focus trained on Patrick Kane the past two weeks has allowed others to escape the scrutiny. That includes Filip Chytil, who suddenly has gone 12 straight games without a goal following a spree in which No. 72 recorded 11 goals in a 13-game stretch that ended on Feb. 8.

The 23-year-old center shot an elevated 30.6 percent (11 goals, 36 shots) during that binge, through which he averaged 15:05 of ice time per. He has taken 32 shots these past dozen games while getting 15:21 of ice per.

Chytil — whose delicious pass sprung Vlad Tarasenko for the overtime winner in Philadelphia last Wednesday — had led Rangers regulars with a 66 percent on-ice goal ratio at five-on-five through the club’s first 56 matches (35 goals for, 18 against). But over the past seven games, Chytil has been on for two goals for and eight against.

The Rangers need him to pick it up again.

Kakko’s loss is Lafreniere’s gain

Alexis Lafreniere #13 of the New York Rangers skates against Karson Kuhlman #20 and Nate Schmidt #88 of the Winnipeg Jets at Madison Square Garden on February 20, 2023 in New York City.
Alexis Lafreniere has scored three goals in his past four games, garnering him more ice time on the Rangers’ power play and moving him within reach of matching the 19 goals he scored last season.
NHLI via Getty Images

Meanwhile, Kaapo Kakko played a season-low 11:21 in Boston on Saturday while having been dropped from the second power-play unit.

Alexis Lafreniere had been the odd-man out for the first three of the club’s four man-advantages on Thursday in Kane’s first game.

Kakko has one goal in his past 10 games and three in the past 28 while Lafreniere has recorded three goals in the past four matches, five in the past nine (including the first two PPGs of his career), seven in the past 14 and eight in the past 17 games.

With 13 goals, all of a sudden last season’s personal-best of 19 does not seem out of reach for No. 13.

Remember that time…

Random Rangers rental: Bryan McCabe for the final 19 games of his 15-year career in 2010-11.