WINNIPEG – As hot as the No. 1 line of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello have been for the past month, their torrid scoring has only served to point out that the Rangers really haven’t been getting much secondary scoring.
The top line has scored nine of the Rangers’ 17 goals since the All- Star break, and No. 2 center Kevin Hayes has three goals in that span (one on a power play and another into an empty net). That means, entering Tuesday’s road game against the Jets, the Rangers had gotten five goals from players other than their top four forwards in their last seven games.
Two of those came from stay-at-home defenseman Adam McQuaid.
David Quinn chuckled when asked if McQuaid, who scored an insurance goal in the Rangers’ 4-1 win over Toronto on Sunday, was now the man who would provide secondary scoring for his team.
“Apparently,’’ the coach said of the 6-4, 210-pound defenseman, who entered Tuesday with 15 career goals over 493 games in 10 seasons. “Two in the last, what, four games? Gotta keep shooting, Adam. Keep shooting.’’
Even McQuaid seemed stunned that he scored his second goal of the season against the Maple Leafs. Asked, jokingly, if his goal could be described as a “goal scorer’s goal,’’ he said, “I don’t know what you’d call it. A shot on net, I guess.’’
McQuaid, 32, has had a solid season for the Rangers after coming over from Boston in a trade at the beginning of training camp. Entering Tuesday, he had played in 31 games, scoring those two goals, with three assists (five points) and playing to a plus-4 rating with 29 penalty minutes. But the entire defense played well against the Maple Leafs, and as such, Quinn stayed with the same lineup he used on Sunday, meaning he dressed seven defensemen for the second straight game.
“I think we’ve managed it better,’’ Quinn said of the 11-forwards-seven-defensemen alignment. “Obviously, when you do something a little bit more frequently, you get more comfortable with it and you learn as you go along. But listen, the bottom line is we want to dress our best 18 skaters, and right now, we think seven of them are defensemen. There’s no rule that says you have to dress 12 and six.’’
Quinn said the first couple times he tried going with seven defenseman this season the team didn’t seem to handle it well. But coming out of the break, when he wanted to bench forward Pavel Buchnevich, he opted to play 11-and-7 against Philadelphia. And things went relatively smoothly in a 1-0 loss.
After sitting Tony DeAngelo for two games for disciplinary reasons, and then benching Neal Pionk for two games, Quinn went with seven defensemen when he returned Pionk to the lineup Sunday against Toronto. And despite allowing 56 shots on goal, the coach said after his team’s 4-1 win that he thought the defense had played well — well enough to keep the lineup intact.
Rangers deal Mazanec to Canucks. With Vancouver in desperate need of a goaltender after injuries to Jakob Markstrom and backup Thatcher Demko, the Rangers dealt Hartford goalie Marek Mazanec to the Canucks for a seventh-round draft pick in 2020.
It was the second 2020 seventh round pick the Rangers acquired in a week, following last Wednesday’s trade of enforcer Cody McLeod to Nashville
Demko has been out with a knee injury, and Markstrom was unable to play Sunday against San Jose because of what the team said was tightness in his lower body. Vancouver was forced to play 19-year-old Michael DiPietro, called up on an emergency basis from his junior team, Monday against the Sharks. They lost, 7-2.
Mazanec has played 40 games over the past two seasons with Hartford. He played 20 games this season and was 7-8-4, with a 3.01 goals against and a .903 save percentage for the Wolf Pack.