Ryan Strome has immediate impact in Rangers return vs. Devils

Ryan Strome slotted back into the Rangers lineup Tuesday night against the Devils, marking the first return from injury that will further complicate head coach Gerard Gallant’s looming personnel decisions.

After missing the previous four games with an undisclosed lower-body injury, which he suffered against the Sabres at the end of March, Strome returned to his usual post next to Artemi Panarin on the second line. Andrew Copp, who filled in for Strome at center in his absence, moved over to the right wing of that unit.

“Obviously, watching wasn’t fun,” Strome said after the Rangers 3-1 win. “Especially the excitement of our team right now, it’s a tough time to miss games. Take the opportunity to rest up and learn some things up top, watch the game. I haven’t watched a game from up top in a long time so.”

On a power play in the first period, a tic-tac-toe passing sequence ended with Strome evening the score 1-1 at 11:07. Considering how off the Rangers’ top man-advantage unit has looked of late, Strome’s return seemingly reignited the chemistry and resulted in a 2-for-3 showing.

Ryan Strome celebrates his goal on Tuesday.
Robert Sabo

“Just having him back in our lineup in general,” Chris Kreider said. “You saw what a big hole it was when he was out, brings so much to our team on the ice and he’s a huge part of our room.”

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Gallant said he’s hopeful Kaapo Kakko and Kevin Rooney, who are both on injured reserve, will get a certain amount of games to integrate back into the lineup before the playoffs start in May. With 11 games left in the regular season, the coach said that number is coming up.

“Obviously they’re skating, obviously they’re real close,” he said. “The doctors control all that, not me. I was hoping they were back two weeks ago. We’ll be patient and make sure they’re ready. When they’re ready, they’re going to be really ready.”

When the Flyers traded Justin Braun to the Rangers at the trade deadline, the veteran defenseman knew he would see a significant change in his role.

Justin Braun score a goal against the Devils on Tuesday.
Robert Sabo

From playing top-pair minutes in Philadelphia to battling for a spot on the bottom duo in New York, Braun said he’s been able to maintain the same mindset despite the significant change in his role.

“Coming into it you figure it’s going to change,” he said before scoring his first goal as a Ranger in Tuesday’s win. “You look at the top four and how well they’ve been playing all year, you just got to kind of slot in, earn the coach’s trust and play well every night.

“There’s a lot of competition in this lineup right now to stay in, which is good, especially going into the playoffs. Having that many guys around that can play at this level is huge.”

Patrik Nemeth has seen the most time on the left side, but the 30-year-old was scratched for the first time in 17 games on Tuesday. Braden Schneider has impressed in his 31 contests and was back in the lineup against the Devils after the rookie was a healthy scratch the previous game.

Braun lined up on the left side of Schneider for the first time, and the pair was pretty effective.


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