Jacob Trouba didn’t want to talk much about his message to his Rangers teammates in the second intermission of Tuesday’s win over the Devils in Newark.
"We just didn't like our second period, and I thought we needed to play better in the third,’’ Trouba said Thursday, before the Rangers and Devils played the second game of their four-game set at Madison Square Garden. "You know, what happens in the room, kind of stays in the room. It's not something that needs to go out to the media, or be talked about.’’
Rangers coach David Quinn had said after that game that, for the first time all season, he decided not to go into the locker room to talk to the players at intermission. The Rangers had not played well in the first two periods and were fortunate to lead 1-0. But Trouba, Quinn said, rallied the troops and the Rangers played much better in the third and ended up winning, 3-0.
Trouba again sparked his team on Thursday night by scoring 47 seconds into the game as the Rangers built a 3-0 first-period lead over the Devils.
"Sometimes, when the coach comes in every day, it's almost like your parents yelling at you all the time,’’ forward Ryan Strome said. "I think sometimes you have to take it from within and we have to grow as a group.
"I think sometimes you can get a little caught up in the X's and O's of things, and I thought in the second period we were, kind of, just off our game,’’ Strome said. "I think we have to take it upon us players, and I think (Trouba) took the initiative first to do that. And I’m really proud of the way we responded. I thought the third period, in terms of a desperate team trying to get into the playoffs, I thought we did all the right things, whether it was, you know, sacrificing, blocking shots, backchecking – doing everything we need to do.’’
The 6-3, 209-pound Trouba didn’t just talk a big game Tuesday, though. He led the team in ice time (22:40) and was credited with a team-high four hits, as well as three blocked shots, which was tied with Adam Fox for the team lead.
Trouba, who missed eight games from mid-February to early March with a broken thumb, entered play Thursday leading the Rangers in hits, with 100, and blocked shots, with 76. He had one goal and 10 assists, and a relatively low penalty minute total of 22.
During training camp, Trouba admitted he struggled to get comfortable all of last season, after coming over from the Winnipeg Jets in a trade over the summer and signing a seven-year, $56 million contract. But after the season, and after getting married in the offseason, he came to camp this year ready to take more of a leadership role.
The departures of Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal and Jesper Fast had thinned the team’s leadership core, and Trouba, 27, aimed to help fill it. He was named one of the team’s four alternate captains before the season, and he has taken an active part in mentoring his defense partner, rookie K’Andre Miller, and other young players on the team.
"It's a hard transition coming in as a young guy, and we have so many young guys that we kind of all have to grow together,’’ said Trouba, who credited Zach Bogosian as helping mentor him when he broke in with Winnipeg. "I still consider myself not super old yet, but just helping wherever I can, and… trying to keep everyone on the right path, I think, is important.’’