Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren said his face looks worse than it actually is.
The swirling shades of black, blue and purple that encircle his right eye with an eerie pop of green in the inside corner makes that hard to believe. There’s a popped blood vessel in the eye as well and two separate lines of stitches, one high up on his right cheekbone and another across the bridge of his nose.
But that’s what happens when you play as hard as Lindgren, according to fellow defenseman Tony DeAngelo, who said the 22-year-old approaches the game of hockey “like it’s 1980 still.”
Lindgren, who has skated in 48 games with the Rangers this season, has earned the reputation among his teammates as being tough as nails. It’s a trait he’s proven each and every game since he was called up from AHL Hartford on Oct. 28 after failing to survive the last round of roster cuts ahead of opening night.
In Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Bruins, Lindgren proved it again, going toe-to-toe with one of the most infamous agitators in the league: Brad Marchand. In the first period, Marchand rabbit-punched Lindgren before holding his stick until Lindgren retaliated and was called for a penalty.
Lindgren then caught a high stick in the face from David Krejci, hence the stitches. The wound even reopened, which Lindgren said he wasn’t aware of until the referee told him to leave the ice. Later in the second period, Marchand cross-checked Lindgren to the ice from behind.
What transpired Sunday evening evidently stayed with Marchand, who told reporters after the game Lindgren “is not going to be a player there that’s going to have a very long career.”
“To me, it’s just hockey,” Lindgren told The Post in response to Marchand’s comments following practice Tuesday. “He’s a competitive guy, I’m a competitive guy. We’re competing against each other. I like to just leave it out on the ice. I’m not a guy who’s going to talk about it after. That’s what he wants to do? Go ahead.
“He is a good player and I like playing against top players. I try to be physical on guys. Obviously, he didn’t like it. But that just means I’m doing my job.”
Coach David Quinn, who noted his familiarity with Marchand from workouts held at Boston University, expressed his disappointment in Marchand’s postgame comments after practice Tuesday.
“Obviously, I know [Marchand is] an agitator and he has a quick wit and he does like to stir things up,” Quinn said. “But just disappointed because you’re talking about a guy who’s got an awful lot of skill. Marchand is one of the better players in the league and he was 21-years-old once and Lindgren has a lot of the characteristics that Marchand has. Just disappointed more than anything.”
DeAngelo was the first Ranger to respond to Marchand’s comments, quote-tweeting the postgame interview and saying, “Lindgren will be in the league for a long time actually. Save your cold blooded BS.” Lindgren said that he later thanked DeAngelo for coming to his defense.
Lindgren, who was drafted 49th-overall in 2016 by, ironically, the Bruins, came to the Rangers as part of the trade that sent Rick Nash to Boston in February 2018. He played in just five NHL games last season but has since solidified his spot on the third defensive pairing with Adam Fox.
Lindgren has accumulated 10 points (one goal, nine assists) so far this season while averaging 16-18 minutes a game. But his physicality has been an invaluable trait to a young Rangers club that is still clawing for a spot in the postseason.
“He plays the right way, he plays hard, you look at his face and [know] he’d do anything to help the team win,” DeAngelo said of Lindgren. “We think he’s going to be a real good player for a long time, so that’s all I have to say about that.”