PITTSBURGH — Ryan Lindgren was sidelined in Saturday night’s 7-4 loss to the Penguins with an undisclosed lower-body injury he suffered in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Rangers’ first round against the Penguins and which has now kept him out. Games 2 and 3.
It was precisely that possibility that prompted president and general manager Chris Drury to acquire veteran defenseman Justin Braun from the Flyers at the trade deadline in exchange for a third-round pick in next year’s draft.
Braun gives Rangers the safety net of an experienced player to plug into at the back.
“It’s huge,” said Adam Fox, who played alongside Braun with longtime defensive partner Lindgren absent. “He’s a constant presence, he plays a pretty simple game. I think he’s a pretty calm guy, so I think that helps everyone there and don’t panic or anything like that.
“There are going to be momentum changes throughout the game, but he has a lot of experience in a lot of big games and that certainly helps us there.”
In Game 2, Braun recorded one assist, one shot on goal, two blocked shots, three hits and a takeaway in 17:44 of ice time. On Saturday, Braun blocked a shot in 16:40 of action.
Fox has played almost exclusively with Lindgren in his three NHL seasons, but the defending Norris Trophy winner has made it work alongside Braun. He noted that Braun was doing a good job reading it and that the 35-year-old’s straightforward style of play was easy to adapt to.
Although there are many differences between Braun and Lindgren’s playing styles, the technical side of the change is that the Braun is right-handed and Lindgren is left-handed.
“It didn’t look like the last game had any challenges in terms of the opposite hand,” Fox said. “[Braun] told me on the blue line if he wanted him in a certain place before the game, so we talked about where his sticks were going to be and everything like that. I think when you have two right-handers you need to talk a bit more.
“If I’m on the left side, if he wants to come back and be on the left all the time or if I’m going to play on the left during this shift. I think it’s just a bit more telling in terms of positioning But other than that, the laterality, I think if you make a pass you look where his stick is anyway.
“I think the little things in the D-zone, talking about it helps in terms of positioning.”
Controversial calls keep coming in this series. Pittsburgh opened the scoring Saturday on one, when Brock McGinn chipped the puck and on Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin while veteran defenseman Patrik Nemeth backed up and dislodged the net just under two minutes into the game.
The initial on-ice call was not a goal, but it was reviewed and overturned, with the NHL citing that “Nemeth caused the net to move from its moorings before the puck crossed the goal line” .
Nemeth was finally on the ice for three of the Penguins’ five goals before their two empty nets in the third period.