Chris Summers is heading back down to the Hartford Wolfpack today after having spent just one game with the New York Rangers. The defenseman filled in for Matt Hunwick who sustained an upper body injury against the Bruins. With a healthy Hunwick returning to the lineup alongside Keith Yandle, Summers is no longer needed for Tuesday’s upcoming matchup with the Jets.
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In Summers’ debut as a Blueshirt, the Rangers were defeated by the Washington Capitals, 5-2. Summers was on the ice during Kevin Hayes‘ unassisted goal, but his +1 was bumped back to zero when Jason Chimera ended a 22-game goal drought and scored the game winner. Summers was then responsible for a giveaway in his own zone that Chimera (him again!) capitalized on to score Washington’s fourth goal.
Although Summers completed 3 hits that game, tied with the team’s lead, the 27-year-old didn’t leave a fantastic impression. “Good play by Summers” definitely wasn’t a popular term and the only time Summers was really worth mentioning was for that turnover.
A lot of people noted how horrible all of Rangers defense looked in that game, but there were some highlights. Dan Girardi was solid for the sixty minutes, and remember Dan Boyle blocking the puck at the goal line? It was a huge save.
So if all of defense didn’t suck, who did? I’m sure the words Keith and Yandle come to mind. He looked like a freelance hockey player, passing the puck to whatever team he wanted with the number of giveaways he had that game (I kid, it was only 2, but it seemed much worse). But let’s not forget who his partner was: Yes, it was Summers.
I am not saying Yandle and Summers are overall horrible hockey players. What I am saying is it was possible that Yandle had to overcompensate for Summers’ lack of experience playing with the Rangers. Even if they did play together back in Arizona, it was Summers’ first time playing in New York’s system. As with anything that is unfamiliar, a whole new way to hockey would probably need some time getting used to. With that said, Yandle probably had too much to deal with on the ice and so of course he was going to look awful without a fitting partner, AKA not Summers.
Now waitaminute, it was just one game. Well let’s look at the season stats. At the start, Summers had 3 assists, 8 penalty minutes and was a -12 in 17 games with the Coyotes. A plus/minus rating like -12 is bad on its own, but over 17 games is kinda scary bad. He also logged one assist, 6 PIM and was a -5 in eight games played with the Portland Pirates, the Coyote’s AHL affiliate: Different league, but just about the same subpar results. These stats confirm that Summers’ game with the Rangers was a typical one.
In Hartford, however, things are looking up for Summers. He recorded one assist, 15 PIM and is currently a +3 in 10 games with the Wolfpack.
Could the different coaching or different team mates be bringing an improvement in his stats? There’s not much time left before the regular season ends, but something could click with Summers in New York. I’m hoping on it because if someone gets hurt in the playoffs, which is quite often, Summers could be brought back into the mix.
And if he does, let’s all hope Summers doesn’t Fall in the Spring…thank you, I’ll be here all week.