While the Rangers added major pieces like Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko at the Trade Deadline, they also made one deal that might just be the best value addition. They brought back fan favorite Tyler Motte from the Ottawa Senators. He was acquired last year at the deadline as well and the Rangers wanted to resign him last summer, but could not make the money work.
Instead, they brought him back via trade and it helped solidify the fourth line as one of the best in the NHL. Motte is playing with Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey and so far, they are playing even better than the top nine during most games. They all play the same style of hockey and that style will help them go far in the playoffs.
I know many people are going to think that I’m crazy for thinking this, but it is true. Even a team that has won a Stanley Cup over the past few years has had the depth that the Rangers have. Even with all the skilled players, it takes players like Motte, Vesey, and Goodrow to win and go far. Goodrow knows this firsthand. He won two Cups with Tampa Bay and his line was an integral part of both championships.
His line with Blake Coleman and Yanni Gourde was feared by many and they were talked about more than the other lines with players like Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point. They were the line that you could always rely on to provide offense when needed, but more importantly, they played the defensive side of the game extremely well.
That is the key aspect of this Rangers’ fourth line. They are extremely good at playing on the defensive side of the puck. They have shown that they can provide offense, but it is more important that they play well in their own zone.
These three players have played extremely well together so far, and they have gotten more ice time since they are so effective. They play hard, forecheck and finish their hits. As mentioned earlier, they have played even better than the top nine at times. That is why they get more ice time. Because they deserve it.
One concern that could be brought up is health of Motte. It seems like every game, there is a play that causes him to go down and leave the game. Usually, he comes back, but other times, he hasn’t. He missed 2 two games with an upper-body injury after a high hit from his former teammate, Austin Watson.
Ever since this game, it seems that Motte is always getting hurt and even if it is minor, it all adds up. If he goes down with an injury for multiple games, it will impact the entire team because they might have to play short-handed due to them not having any cap space for a call-up. Hopefully, all will go well and they can make it down the stretch and enter the playoffs as healthy as possible.
The playoffs are right around the corner and the Rangers are going to have a tough road ahead of them. If it’s the Devils or the Hurricanes, both matchups won’t be easy for them. They are going to need everybody at the top of their game and the fourth line is a critical piece of the puzzle. They all play that playoff style of hockey and they could be the key to whether or not the Rangers make a deep run this spring.