With a goal and an assist, Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle had one of his more productive outings in Saturday’s 6-1 victory over the Devils.
The fact he was named third star must have been a nice bonus for the 28-year-old, given it hasn’t been the smoothest of transitions since being traded from Arizona prior to the deadline.
According to coach Alain Vigneault, it’s natural for players to endure an “adjustment period” before they get comfortable with new teammates.
“How quick guys get available, how quick they get into open ice,” Vigneault explained ahead of tonight’s game against Columbus (video).
“Keith’s a real smart player, real good with the puck. Every day he’s gotten a little bit better at understanding when it’s the opportunity, when it’s a good percentage to jump in, to stay back, etc. And I think as we move forward here, he’s only going to get better.”
Yandle has also been playing considerably less for the deeper Rangers (19:22 per game) than he did with the Coyotes (23:55). That’s probably been an adjustment, too.
On top of that, he’s called the defensive system the Rangers play “much different” than he was used to in Arizona.
“You have to try to take time and space away no matter what side of the ice,” he said, per the New York Post. “You get the puck back and go.
“There’s so much skill here, and everyone works so hard. The will, the effort; it’s a fun system to be a part of. Everyone has 100 percent bought into AV’s system.”
Yandle’s real value will be measured in the playoffs. For example, can he help a power play that’s scored just four times in the Rangers’ last 18 games? That would go a long way to proving his worth.
Tonight against the Jackets, Yandle is expected to start on the third pair with Matt Hunwick.