Rangers’ Braden Schneider plays as a veteran in his NHL debut

Braden Schneider knows that an impressive NHL debut does not necessarily mean he has done so as an NHL player.

That’s true, even though for that debut he seamlessly integrated on the Rangers’ blue line and competed as if he had been a cornerstone of an NHL series for years – not selected as the 19th overall in the 2020 draft.

In his first NHL game, Schneider not only gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead in their final shutout victory in San Jose on Thursday, but he was also effective overall. He hit purposefully and got four to go along with two blocked shots and three shots on goal in 14:49 ice time – a team low in defense.

6-foot-2 Schneider also became just the seventh defender in Rangers history to score in his first NHL game, along with Thomas Pock, Steve Richmond, Mario Marois, Ralph Keller, Harry Howell and Joe Jerwa.

“I do not think you can say anything after a match,” the 20-year-old Schneider said after the victory. “I am very happy with how I played, I wanted to show that I could play physically and perform at this level. I could not have drawn it better myself. It’s one match and I can not get too high on myself, but I was very happy with how it went. “

Rangers’ Braden Schneider plays as a veteran in his NHL debut
Rangers defender Braden Schneider

Rangers have experimented with combinations for the third defensive pair, which was initiated due to Patrik Nemeth’s absence in four games due to personal reasons, and Jarred Tinordi entered the COVID-19 protocol. The Rangers’ bottom pair have been a weak point all season, so Schneider can get an extended look there after his performance on Thursday.

Schneider would probably have been the first defender that Rangers recalled from Hartford to join the team’s taxi team if he had not been unavailable, presumably in the COVID-19 protocol a few weeks ago. Instead, Zac Jones and Matthew Robertson were selected.

While Jones did relatively well apart from a tough outing in Vegas, Schneider plays more of the style that general manager and president Chris Drury and head coach Gerard Gallant want.

“He’s a good defensive defender,” said acting coach Kris Knoblauch. “I like to say he gives the attacking touching touch all the time, but I was very proud of him and the way he played. His first pair change he was very into the game, he made really simple games, advanced the puck to forward.

“I do not remember him being out of position defensively all night, it’s his game. Nice to have him rewarded, and scored that goal while his parents here in town saw him. Very happy on his behalf.”

The Rangers awarded Jones and send Lauri Pajuniemi and Justin Richards back to Hartford on Friday, opening the door for a pair of Rangers to return from the COVID-19 protocol.

Julien Gauthier and Ryan Reaves are both eligible to be activated for Saturday’s game in Philadelphia.


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