CALGARY — Ryan Lindgren is not one to hide from anything. On the ice, if someone wants a piece of him, he’s more than happy to give it to the guy. And after a game, if he’s had a tough night, he owns it.
The 6-foot, 191-pound Minneapolis native had a rough game Tuesday, in the Rangers’ 7-5 New Year’s Eve loss in Edmonton. He was on ice for all three goals against in the first period, and found himself benched for the last half of that period. He played just 1:56 in the first period, and a total of 10:42 for the game, the third-least amount of ice time of any Ranger.
“Rightfully so,’’ Lindgren said Thursday about his benching. “I was fighting it in the first, getting scored on  seconds in, and then being out there for a PK (penalty kill) goal, and another goal right after that. It was just — it wasn’t good. It’s something I can’t do, and especially in a league like this. If I come out not ready to play, it’s going to end up in the back of the net.’’
Speaking after the Rangers’ optional morning skate, before their game against the Calgary Flames, in the middle game of their three-game Western Canada swing, the 21-year-old rookie admitted it was painful to have to sit and watch from the bench. But he understood why, he said. And coach David Quinn spoke to him after the period was over.
“He said, ‘It wasn’t a good first period by you, but you’ve got to erase it and have a better two periods,’ ’’ Lindgren said. “And I thought I did. I thought I did a good job of putting that period behind me and having a better second and third. It’s never easy getting sat like that, but I thought I responded well to it.’’
Lindgren might have been the one benched Tuesday, but he certainly wasn’t the only Ranger who had a tough night against the Oilers, who scored three power-play goals in six chances and who scored four goals from right in front of the net — one on a back door dunk, two on tip-ins and one on a power play rebound. Quinn after the game bemoaned the Rangers’ play in front of their own net.
“Our ‘D’ has got to pick [opponents’] sticks up; we’ve got to have an attitude, and we’ve got to stop puck-watching when the puck’s up on top of the blue line,’’ Quinn said. “You just can’t be that soft around your net.’’
The Rangers worked on those concepts in their brief practice Wednesday in Calgary, and Lindgren, for one, was hoping they would be much better at their net-front coverage against the Flames.
“When the puck goes to the point, it kind of seems like we have a tendency to puck-watch, and let our guys go to the net,’’ Lindgren said. “So that’s something we’ve got to be better at, for sure. Myself, definitely, included.’’
Tuesday’s game aside, Lindgren has been solid on a Rangers defense whose 3.31 goals allowed per game entering Thursday was fifth-worst in the NHL. Lindgren, who started the season with AHL Hartford, before being called up at the end of October, had a plus/minus rating of plus-5 entering Thursday, tied for fourth-best on the team. And he has worked his way to becoming a regular on the penalty kill, partnering with veteran Marc Staal.
“As you can tell, I’m not much of a power play guy,’’ said Lindgren, who had a goal and seven assists in 29 games entering Thursday. “So, PK is definitely something I take pride in . . . It’s definitely something I want to be good at, and want to be trusted with, and I think I’ve earned that trust from the coaches.’’