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Rangers mailbag: What Adam Fox and Tony DeAngelo’s similarities mean for the future

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You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Rangers.

If the Rangers are going to keep PP1 (the first power-play unit) out there for between 90 seconds or the full two minutes, that’s fine, but isn’t it a little bit absurd that Adam Fox is sitting on the bench, he with his ability to see several plays ahead and deliver amazing passes? I’m not saying to bump [Tony] DeAngelo out, but to play alongside him. I know that over the last 10 years, every team has transitioned to having four forwards on, but when Fox is left out, you have to rethink that, and he’s wasted on PP2. — @ChristoKoenig

It is a conundrum, all right, the Rangers with two young and gifted right-handed offense- and power-play drivers in DeAngelo and Fox and only so much time to go around. I think the near duplication of offensive abilities is something management will consider when DeAngelo becomes a restricted free agent this offseason. Next season will probably look different.

The first unit averaged about a 1:20 more per game than the second unit, with DeAngelo (3:05 per) up primarily with Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Ryan Strome. Fox (1:59) was generally on the second unit with Pavel Buchnevich, Kaapo Kakko, Brendan Lemieux or Filip Chytil and Jacob Trouba.

Moving Fox to the first unit in place of Strome (that’s who it would be) would probably force David Quinn to add another defenseman to the second unit, and who exactly would that be; Ryan Lindgren, Marc Staal or Brendan Smith?

But beyond that, it is unrealistic to expect the Rangers to make a change for the scheduled upcoming qualifying three-of-five play-in against Carolina. The power play, though 0-for-9 over the final three games, hummed at a 32.2 percent pace in the 34 matches (29-for-99) following the Christmas hiatus. It is a singular strength. There is nothing broken to fix.

Next year is a different story.

One of Alain Vigneault’s biggest mistakes (often overlooked) was scratching James Sheppard in favor of keeping Tanner Glass in the lineup for Game 7 of the 2015 Eastern Conference finals vs. Tampa Bay. What in the world was AV thinking? Remember Sheppard scored a huge goal in Game 6 to keep NYR’s season alive. AV has to be regretting his awful decision. — James Sena

As Sheppard produced one goal and one assist averaging 8:55 of ice time in 13 playoff games, yes, the decision to sit No. 45 has generally been overlooked. The winger who came from San Jose at the deadline (and scored two goals for two points in 14 regular-season matches averaging 11:22 per) did score his only goal of the playoffs in Game 6 of the series to give his team a 4-1 lead in a 7-4 victory. But when Vigneault opted to dress a seventh defenseman to protect against the possibility that Ryan McDonagh, playing on a broken foot, would not be able to make it, Matt Hunwick replaced Sheppard.

All due respect to Sheppard, who in fact never played another NHL game and has spent the last five years in Europe, but it is hard to believe that changing the identity of the 11th forward would have changed the outcome of the 2-0 defeat at the Garden. By the way? The Rangers, also shut out 2-0 in Game 5, scored two goals while losing the last three straight at home while scoring a sum of 17 goals in the three games at Tampa Bay. Weird.

How much of a goaltender’s success do you ascribe to the team playing in front of him? For instance, if Martin Brodeur played his entire career with the Rangers and Mike Richter with the Devils, who would have had the better stats? — Bill Staropoli

I think they are mutually dependent. The Devils’ system thrived in large part because of Brodeur’s ability to play the puck and save his defensemen from taking hundreds of hits per season. How much punishment do you think Brian Leetch would have avoided with Brodeur playing behind him?

Richter was a great big-game goaltender. You might pick him over any netminder in New York/New Jersey history to play a Game 7 and you couldn’t be second-guessed. But Richter played 50 or more games only six times in his career while Brodeur played at least 70 in twice as many seasons. Richter’s knees were a serious issue in the late ’90s before concussions in the early aughts ended his career.

So … would the Devils have won three Cups with Richter? I don’t know about that. Conversely, would the Rangers have won more than one with Brodeur? Maybe.

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