Ryan Lindgren returns to Rangers lineup 11 days after scary leg injury

DENVER — Ryan Lindgren even surprised himself with his recent recovery period. 

When he crashed into the boards intertwined with the Islanders’ Jean-Gabriel Pageau and fell awkwardly on his leg just a week and a half ago, the 26-year-old defenseman was genuinely scared and preparing himself for the worst. 

The examination revealed the injury was not nearly as bad as initially feared.

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren returned to the lineup Thursday night. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Even still, no one expected Lindgren to be back in the Rangers’ lineup just 11 days later to face the Avalanche on Thursday night at Ball Arena. 

“In the moment, it was terrifying, obviously,” said Lindgren, who noted that he healed a lot faster than he thought he would. “I thought It was going to be very serious. Very fortunate to get the news back and hear it was only going to be short term. Very fortunate.” 

It’s the least surprising — and yet absolutely jaw-dropping — that Lindgren returned from such an injury so quickly. 

Ryan Lindgren suffered a scary leg injury earlier in March. Robert Sabo for NY Post

There was an understanding that there was no rush for him to return to the lineup, Lindgren said, but it quickly became clear that he was going to be ready to go a lot sooner than expected.

He resumed skating a little over a week after the injury while undergoing a lot of treatment and was targeting the injured area in the weight room. 

Lindgren said he’s feeling good and that he didn’t see the point in sitting out any longer. 

Head coach Peter Laviolette shared the same sentiment. 

“We will play players when they’re ready to play,” Laviolette said. “To me, when a player is cleared by everybody and deemed healthy, at that point, you’re essentially healthy-scratching him. That doesn’t make any sense to me, either. He’s been out for a little bit. When he is ready to come back in, and Jacob [Trouba] as well, they’re cleared to play and they’re good to go. So that’s how we approach it. 

Jacob Trouba remains out with an injury but has been skating with the team. NHLI via Getty Images

“And at that point, they want to play. They want to get out there and play. We’re not going to put anybody in jeopardy, but in the same sense, guys need to play, want to play and we want them out there.” 

Lindgren equated the situation to the one he experienced last season, when the Minnesota native missed 17 of the final 23 games of the regular season with a shoulder injury.

He only got five games to ramp his game up before the Rangers’ firs-round series against the Devils began. 

This time around, Lindgren should get 10, which he said will be huge for him to get back into his game. 

With Lindgren returning to his usual spot on the left side of Adam Fox, the K’Andre Miller-Braden Schneider pairing remained intact and Zac Jones skated with Chad Ruhwedel. 

New York Rangers defenseman Erik Gustafsson remains sidelined. Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers are now down just two of their top-six defensemen, with Trouba and Erik Gustafsson still out.

Trouba participated in morning skate on Thursday in a regular jersey and looks close to returning to the lineup. 

Gustafsson, on the other hand, has not skated with the team since taking an elbow to the head from the Panthers’ Sam Reinhart. 

But Lindgren continues to play the role of The Terminator for the Rangers, who managed to go 3-1 without him. He always comes back — sometimes even faster than anyone ever could’ve imagined. 

“I’m convinced that guy is made out of rubber,” Miller said. 

Added Jimmy Vesey: “Anything goes with him. Unfortunately, the way he plays he gets banged up. When he’s in the lineup for us he’s a big asset to our team. Blocking shots, playing physical, protecting our net front. It’s nice to have him back, but no surprises with him.” 

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