The New York Rangers did not have the 2020-21 season they hoped for, but they have found a star in Adam Fox. In just his second season, he won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman.
While the Norris Trophy is an individual award, the teammate that contributed the most to Fox’s success was his defense partner Ryan Lindgren. He was a strong, steady force on New York’s blue line, and his play has helped bring out the best in Fox.
Lindgren and Fox’s Chemistry
The chemistry between Lindgren and Fox dates back to their time playing together for the U.S. National Under-17 Team during the 2014-15 season. They both went on to help the U.S. win the World Junior U-20 Championships in 2017 and played for the team once again in 2018.
Neither Fox nor Lindgren was drafted by the Rangers. They acquired Lindgren from the Boston Bruins in the trade that sent Rick Nash to Boston during the 2017-18 season. New York acquired Fox from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for two draft picks during the 2019 offseason.
The two rookie defensemen were paired together during the 2019-20 season, and their chemistry grew as the season went on. Lindgren was steady and defensive-minded, which allowed Fox to jump up in the rush and be more aggressive offensively.
While Fox showed great vision and creativity, Lindgren played with toughness and grit. Both players excelled together on the penalty kill, and by the end of the season, they had established themselves as New York’s best defense pair.
Fox ended the season with eight goals and 34 assists in 70 games, while Lindgren had one goal and 13 assists in 60 games. Though Lindgren wasn’t known for his offensive ability, he made effective passes out of his own zone to start the rush and avoided dangerous giveaways.
Lindgren’s 2020-21 Season
Both Lindgren and Fox avoided a sophomore slump this season, and they once again proved to be the Rangers’ best defense pair. Fox made dazzling plays at both ends of the ice, while Lindgren was very strong defensively and was one of New York’s most physical players.
Lindgren’s defense-first mentality allowed Fox to be very aggressive, and as the season went on, Lindgren also became more comfortable stepping up to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Though he doesn’t possess the jaw-dropping playmaking ability of Fox, he consistently made smart passes to set up teammates.
In his own zone, Lindgren was reliable and trustworthy. He used his reach to get in passing lanes, never passed up a chance to throw a check and hardly ever gave up odd-man rushes. He was one of the Rangers’ top penalty killers and one of their most effective players while holding on to leads late in games.
This season, Lindgren had one goal and 15 assists in 51 games. He was also plus-20, which was the best on the Rangers, and also finished second among New York’s defensemen in points. Fox finished this season with five goals, 42 assists and was plus-19, though he was held without a point in the final five games of the season, which Lindgren missed due to an injury.
After just two seasons, Fox has proven to be a franchise cornerstone, and Lindgren is the perfect defense partner for him. Lindgren’s play alongside Fox has been reminiscent of Jeff Beukeboom’s play when he was Brian Leetch’s defense partner in the 1990s. While Lindgren may not put up huge offensive numbers, he has brought out the best in his defense partner, and he has been excellent defensively in each of his first two seasons.
Lindgren signed a three-year contract extension this offseason, which he earned with his strong play. He and Fox can be trusted in any situation, and they could be the Rangers’ top defense pair for years to come as they are both just 23 years old. Additionally, another great season from the Blueshirts’ top defense pair would go a long way towards helping the Rangers make the playoffs for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, rooting for the Rangers, Yankees, Giants, and Knicks. When my dream of playing shortstop for the Yankees fell short, I started writing about sports instead. I’m a proud graduate of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.