The New York Rangers finished up their road trip out west on Thursday, Jan. 13. They went 3-2 on the trip and 2-1 against the California teams beating the San Jose Sharks, 3-0. Adam Fox and Chris Kreider were chosen to play in the 2022 NHL All-Star Game, Feb. 5, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Igor Shesterkin was not selected; and more.
Fox and Kreider
Fox, the 2019-20 Norris Trophy (Best defenseman) winner was named to his first All-Star Game. The Jericho, New York native is only in his third NHL season. The former 2016 third-round draft pick (Calgary) picked up where he left off last season and leads the team in assists and points with 32 and 37, respectively. He has the third-most points this season by a defenseman, trailing Roman Josi and Victor Hedman. Josi has 38 and Hedman 39. Fox is tied for the league lead with Hedman in assists.
Fox is only the second defenseman in NHL history to win the Norris Trophy before being selected to an All-Star Game. The other was P.K. Subban. Fox is the first Rangers defenseman since Ryan McDonagh to be selected. McDonagh had the honor during the 2016-17 season. This also marks the first time in Blueshirts’ history that multiple American-born players were picked. The Rangers haven’t had multiple players of any nationality selected to the All-Star Game since the 2011-12 season.
Related: Rangers Should Name Kreider Captain
Kreider was named to his second All-Star Game. It’s also the second time in three years the Rangers’ left-wing made the cut. The Boxford, Massachusetts native leads the team in goals with 23, while Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers has the league lead with 26. Alex Ovechkin and Auston Matthews of the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs each have 24. The six-foot-three, 223-pound Kreider is the only player in the NHL with 21 or more goals and 76 or more hits.
Kreider notched his 200th career goal Jan. 13 against the Sharks. It was his second of the night, as he iced the game, putting the puck into the empty net after the Sharks pulled goaltender Adin Hill. The Rangers’ alternate captain has 12 power-play goals this season, and he also ranks 12th in franchise history in goals. He’s spent all of his 10 NHL seasons with the team that drafted him, and has seven seasons with 20 goals or more during his career while being plus-72.
Shesterkin, who’s been one of the top goalies in the league this season, did not get selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game. Although he’s missed a few games due to injury and COVID protocols, he’s still at the top, or among the league’s best in several categories.
Apparently, it didn’t matter. Maybe it’s the timing? Or maybe it’s the fact that his team boasts a talented roster on offense and the back end? However, there have been several games, along with three shutouts, where “Igor,” as the Madison Square Garden (MSG) crowd likes to shout, has been a standout. Not long after hearing the news, Shesterkin was back on the ice for the Rangers and pitched a 3-0 shutout against the Sharks.
Schneider; First Game, First Goal
The Rangers called up defenseman Braden Schneider and sent Nils Lundkvist down to American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack. Schneider played in his first NHL game and scored his first career goal in the Rangers’ win over the Sharks. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound defenseman had yet to score a professional goal while playing with the Wolf Pack. On Jan. 14, the Rangers sent defenseman Zac Jones, along with Lauri Pajuniemi and Justin Richards, back down to Hartford.
The Rangers are in the market for a right-handed defenseman, and this is Schneider’s audition. In the coming days and weeks, the team needs to decide if they want to give up prospects in a trade to fill this need or be content with what they have in the pipeline.
Wolf Pack head coach Kris Knoblach, who was filling in the last few days while Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant was in COVID protocol, had this to say about Schneider, “Braden has been a very good player for us in Hartford. I think he’s been a very good defensive player. He’s an incredible skater and for his age, he’s very strong. I think one of things players have trouble with coming to the National Hockey League is eliminating the play, and that’s like knocking a guy off the puck, separating him and then making the next play.” (from “Highly touted prospect Braden Schneider is getting his Rangers chance”, NY Post, 1/12/22)
The Rangers’ 2020 first-round, 19th-overall pick is getting his chance, and he hopes to make the most of it. He said, “I want to show that I’m able to play at this level and I want to show that I belong here. So, if I can keep improving my game each day, I think that’s the main goal is still to try to get one percent better each day and keep a positive mindset while doing it.” Schneider and Gallant got to know each other pretty well in Latvia when Gallant coached him on Team Canada during the 2021 World Championship, which they won gold.
Two Chosen, One Shunned, and a First
Fox and Kreider hope to make the Rangers organization proud in Vegas, while Shesterkin made a statement with a 3-0 shutout over the Sharks after not being chosen for the All-Star Game. Schneider had a promising debut with his first snipe and looks to get better.
Scott Blair is an author and journalist from Los Angeles, CA, by way of Detroit, MI. Uniquely diverse experiences have shaped Scott’s life in both of those places he calls home. He is now traveling the world, learning and growing as a human and a writer. He was a professional hockey player and then turned to the arts, becoming an actor for about 15 years. His passions turned to poetry, prose, politics, and journalism when he got tired of the Hollywood machine and what it represents. Scott is available for interviews and welcomes questions and topic ideas.