When Alain Vigneault was behind the bench, Rangers defensemen had the mandate to move the puck as quickly as possible in the Point A-to-Point-B approach that a transporter such as Dan Boyle found restrictive and moaned about all the time.

This year’s corps of mobile defensemen always seems to have its collective head up while looking to move the puck decisively. Think Jacob Trouba’s headman pass that sprung Mika Zibanejad down the middle on Thursday against the Jets and Adam Fox’s feed up the right wing to Artemi Panarin that ignited No. 93’s highlight-reel goal and exchange with Pavel Buchnevich.

But if a defenseman has the inclination to carry the puck and has the time, space and talent to do so, David Quinn and the staff are not going to hold him back.

“There’s a system, but there are options within it,” Jacob Trouba said. “We’re not robots. It’s not, ‘Get it, chip it, chase it.’

“There are reads we all have, and we do want to get the puck out quickly and not spend much time in our own end, but if your best option is to carry it, then that’s the play. We haven’t been told not to do that.

“There’s a trust there that you’re going to make the right play.”

Tony DeAngelo, who had a much steadier night in Ottawa on Saturday than at the Garden in Thursday’s opener against the Jets, said he was “a lugger” throughout junior hockey.

“We’re pretty mobile back there, really good skaters, and if you’re able to beat a guy, the coaches won’t tell you not to lug it,” DeAngelo said. “They’ve given us some freedom back there.

“For me, I want to get the puck out of our end as quickly as possible the best way possible. We don’t want to be defending all night.”


The Rangers provided no explanation for, or amplification of, Vitali Kravtsov’s healthy scratch from the AHL Wolf Pack lineup on Sunday in the AHL team’s second game of the season, except to confirm that the 19-year-old Russian was indeed, healthy.

It is safe, then, to infer that the hierarchy was not especially pleased with the 2018 first-rounder’s work in Saturday’s opener that represented the winger’s first regular-season North American pro game.


Zibanejad was named the NHL’s “Star of the Week” off his four-goal, four-assist, eight-point production in two games. Zibanejad, who followed his goal and three assists against the Jets with a three-goal, one-assist performance (and the fourth hat trick of his career) in Ottawa, is the first player in franchise history to record four points in each of his first two games.

The alternate captain became the first NHL player to register eight points in the first two games of a season since Jaromir Jagr had three goals with five assists for Pittsburgh in the opening two games of 1995-96.

Zibanejad became the first Ranger in 43 years to post eight points in the season’s first two games, since Rod Gilbert recorded three assists in the 1976-77 opener against the North Stars before adding five assists in Game 2 in Colorado against the Rockies.