Rookie defenseman Ryan Lindgren chats with The Post’s Steve Serby about the Rangers’ Stanley Cup chances, playing during the pandemic and much more.
Q: What do you like best about this Rangers team?
A: From an off-ice point of view, just how close everyone is and how much we enjoy being around each other and at the rink together and hanging out, joking around. It’s a very tight group. As a team on the ice, very fast, very skilled, hard-working team, great goaltending. I think that we’re a tough team and can sneak up on a lot of people. The way that we were playing towards the end of the year, we were a dangerous team.
Q: You think you can make some noise in the playoffs?
A: Absolutely. I don’t think there’s a guy in the locker room that doubts that, that we can make some noise going into the playoffs. We’re a great team and a confident team, and we’re excited to get going.
Q: How would you describe your on-ice mentality?
A: From what people say and I guess it’s truth, off-the-ice I’m pretty reserved, I guess, and really don’t say a whole lot, and then on the ice I like being physical, I like talking to the other players, and chirping a little bit. … I just like the intensity of hockey.
Q: Who gave you the nickname The Warrior?
A: None of my buddies ever called me that. The announcer at Ann Arbor, my parents always say, called me The Warrior, so I guess that’s kinda where it started.
Q: But it’s carried over to the Rangers right?
A: Yeah, maybe that was just kind of a coincidence that that happened. I guess maybe Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti started calling me that too.
Q: I would think that’s flattering, Paul O’Neill is remembered as The Warrior by the Yankees and Yankees fans.
A: Yeah, definitely flattering. It’s certainly not a bad thing to be called.
Q: Coach (David) Quinn recently said that you play angry … why do you play angry?
A: I wouldn’t say I’m the most skilled guy out there. The way that I think I contribute to the Rangers and to the team is with my physicality, and just working hard. … That’s just the way I gotta play, I gotta play mean, that’s where I’m playing my best hockey. You gotta be tough in front of our net and just use my body and yeah, play angry, I guess.
Q: Is it a skill to get under other players’ skin?
A: I think so. When you got the top players on the other team, you’re trying to get in their head a little bit, and I’m trying to hit ’em every chance you get. I definitely think that it’s a bonus for your team.
Q: How good of a trash talker are you?
A: I don’t think I’m great. If I get chirped, I’m not the quickest with the comebacks. Like you kinda get like a “What’d you say?” Like try to buy myself some time so I could finally think of something.
Q: You don’t initiate it?
A: It kinda depends. Kinda heat of the moment if I think of something and it just kinda comes out.
Q: Where do you think you need to improve?
A: I think on the offensive zones, especially trying to pick Foxy’s (Adam Fox) brain with how good he is with the puck and how deceptive he is being able to shake a defender off and being able to fake and then get around a guy and be able to find lanes. … Something I definitely think I can work on is just my shiftiness and being able to be more deceptive with the puck.
Q: Adam Fox, whatever comes to mind.
A: He’s always got a comment about what’s going on. A few guys are talking, he’s always gotta peek his head in and try to get involved in the conversation.
Q: Artemi Panarin?
A: He’s just a really nice guy. Always smiling, very friendly around the rink. Treats people very well, and obviously a heckuva hockey player.
Q: What amazes you about him on the ice?
A: Pretty much everything, just the way he plays the game, he kinda plays at his own pace, and is able to just be so creative and sees the ice so well, always finds the passing lane, always makes the right play. He’s got a heckuva shot, can always pick the right spot and … yeah, just his hands, and just the way he sees the ice, it’s incredible.
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Q: Kaapo Kakko?
A: Kakko is real shifty, got great hands, very fast … just really quick hands and just be able to get around people … real tough player to defend one-on-one.
Q: Igor Shesterkin?
A: Very quick. You think that he might be out of it, he’s able to push over real quick and make tremendous saves.
Q: Henrik Lundqvist?
A: He works his butt off, and you can just see why he’s been in the league so long and why he’s had so much success.
Q: Mika Zibanejad?
A: He’s just so dominant, just the way he can skate. He’s a big guy, he’s such a tremendous skater and be able to fly through the neutral zone and be able to kinda do his own thing. He’s got a great shot, too, and he’s a great leader as well.
Q: Chris Kreider?
A: He’s an absolute moose. He takes care of his body, he’s a beast in the weight room, he’s always looking to get stronger. He’s got an absolute bullet of a shot. He’s a hard guy to push off the puck. He’s crafty too and he makes great plays.
Q: Jacob Trouba?
A: Kinda same with Kreider, he’s a big dude, he’s strong, he’s got a heckuva shot, he defends hard, he’s physical, he’s tough to play against, and he’s a great leader on the back end.
Q: Coach Quinn?
A: I knew a lot of guys that played for him at BU (Boston University) and absolutely loved him, and had nothing but good things to say about him, and same goes for here. All the guys like him, and he pushes us to be the best team we can possibly be. He’s great with the young guys to be able to talk to them and how he’s teaching us new things.
Q: Brad Marchand’s comments about you in February (“He’s not going to be a player there that’s going to have a very long career).”
A: Two guys competing. That was an intense game, and we went at it a little, he had some words after the game in an interview. I didn’t put too much thought into when he says what he says, what he says doesn’t worry me at all, doesn’t affect me.
Q: Playing hockey during a pandemic?
A: It’s definitely gonna be different, especially the whole aspect of having no fans, and just kinda being in our little bubble. It’s definitely gonna be a little weird, but it’s still gonna be playoff hockey. Our team’s fired up and excited to get going.
Q: Any safety concerns?
A: Yeah, you’ve gotta make sure guys are bring smart and doing the right things, but I know everyone’s gonna take it very seriously, and I don’t think there should be any problems.
Q: Do you know anyone who has been affected by COVID-19?
A: One of my good buddies back home did test positive for it, but he’s doing all right. But besides that, very fortunate so far to not know anyone (who’d) had it, but family’s doing well.
Q: You can pick the brain of one player in NHL history?
A: Maybe a guy like Niklas Lidstrom. Just kinda see what he did that made him so successful and how he approached each game.
Q: Best hockey moment so far?
A: The World Juniors in 2017, won the gold medal against Canada in a shootout.
Q: Worst hockey moment … aside from this interview?
A: (Laughs) Probably my sophomore year at Minnesota, we had four games against Penn State in a row, all at Penn State, and we needed to win at least one of ’em to make the NCAA Tournament, and losing all four.
Q: How come your father and brothers were all goalies but you’re not?
A: My father played high school in Minnesota and played college at Michigan and my brothers tried it from an early age and ended up liking it. I ended up giving it a try and didn’t like it.
Q: How old were you?
A: I was probably 5 or 6 years old. I think I let in like 12 goals or something, started crying on the ice, my dad come out, dragged me out, and that was it.
Q: The first time you played at MSG?
A: It was my first game, against Carolina, obviously pretty nervous, didn’t really know what to expect, and just how great the crowd was and we ended up winning the game. Just a blast, and just how passionate the fans are.
Q: Boyhood idol?
A: I always just kinda looked up to my brothers. Just two easy guys to really look up to. They treated me great, and always included me in things.
Q: Favorite athletes growing up?
A: For the Wild, it was Wes Walz, it was the first hockey jersey my dad ever bought me; Andrew Brunette, big fan of him, Brian Rolston, Marian Gaborik … big Adrian Peterson when he was there (Vikings), Brett Favre for that one year, it was fun.
Q: Did you have a favorite rink?
A: I spent most of my time at Minnesota Made, it was in Edina, Minnesota, that was kinda the summer hockey rink that we’d always go to and have a bunch of tournaments at. A lot of good memories there.
Q: Three dinner guests?
A: Chris Farley, Bobby Orr, Tiger Woods.
Q: How’s your golf game?
A: I play about five, six times a week in the summer, and I’m still not very good, but love the game.
Q: What’s your handicap?
A: About a 13.
Q: Why Bobby Orr?
A: Obviously one of the greatest defensemen to ever play the game, so probably pick his brain about a few things.
Q: And of course you’d give Tiger a few pointers.
A: Yeah, I’d try to help him out a little bit, maybe teach him a few things about his swing.
Q: Other athletes outside of hockey you admire?
A: A guy like Tom Brady, who is able to play quarterback at 42, 43 years old and still be successful in the league, it’s something that’s pretty special. Just the way he takes care of himself and just what he does every day is something pretty cool to see.
Q: You’ll play hockey til you’re 43, right?
A: (Laughs) I hope so. No doubt.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: Sports movie, “Miracle” is obviously a fun one to watch. My favorite movie I can probably watch over and over again is probably “Old School.”
Q: Favorite actor?
A: Chris Farley or Will Ferrell.
Q: Favorite actress?
A: Jennifer Aniston.
Q: Favorite singer/entertainer?
A: Luke Combs.
Q: Favorite meal?
Q: Personal goals?
A: Just being consistent and working hard every game and trying to be the best player I can be and try to help out the team as much as possible. And making sure if I don’t have a great shift or maybe a great game, (forgetting) about that and looking forward to the next one, making sure I bounce back and stay consistent throughout the year.
Q: Career goals?
A: Try to play as long as I can and help the team as long as I can. Obviously, you want to win a Stanley Cup, you want to help the team get to the playoffs and be successful.
Q: What drives you?
A: I guess my family kinda does. I know how proud my parents and my whole family, my grandpa, it means a lot to them for sure seeing this stage of my career being able to play in the NHL, and play for the Rangers. I know that’s something that’s really special for them, and how much time and money they put into helping me go through hockey at such a young age. Just that they’re proud, and that drives me a lot to keep going.
Q: Your NHL dream started when you were 5; what’s it like being a New York Ranger?
A: It’s special, no doubt. I can’t believe it sometimes that I’m fortunate enough to play in New York City and to play for the Rangers.
Q: Your message to Rangers fans?
A: A hungry team excited to show what we got, and excited to go compete. Excited for Game 1 on August 1st.