May 25, 2024

Vincent Trocheck is Rangers’ do-it-all hero in 2024 playoffs


Vincent Trocheck counted off the dishes on his family’s dinner table back in Pittsburgh.

There was chicken parmesan, rigatoni and arancini. There were meatballs, plates of linguine with shrimp and scallops and chicken cutlets. There was braciola, a rolled meat roulade smothered in tomato sauce.

The food wasn’t just for his own family, but for his hockey family. Trocheck has made it an annual tradition to host New York Rangers teammates for an Italian feast during the season: a chance to mangiare (eat up), as the Italians say, and a chance to bond.

“Have a good home-cooked meal on the road,” he said. “I just think it’s good to have everybody together.”

Trocheck brought everybody together again recently, but in a corner of the rink at Madison Square Garden, deliriously celebrating a goal.

After his double-overtime goal in Game 2 against the Carolina Hurricanes, Trocheck was surrounded by every Ranger on the ice and those who had skated off the bench. The goal horn was blaring. The New York fans were euphoric. Trocheck grinned widely in a sea of blue, an instant classic photo that became fodder for the Art But Make It Sports social media account:

“When they go into overtime or double overtime, anyone can win those games,” Trocheck said. “Anything can happen.”

What happened in Game 2 has happened with frequency this season: The Rangers score on the power play. Just like they did to tie the game on a Chris Kreider goal in the third period — Trocheck assisted on that one.

“I think we do expect to score. We feel like as a unit, the team relies on us to score on the power play,” Trocheck said of their power play, clicking at 34.5%. “Special teams have been so big so far in the playoffs. We’re relied on a lot, and there’s a lot of pressure in that. We have this confidence, this rhythm. We just want to keep doing the same things, keep this going.”

The Rangers won the game 4-3 in part because the Hurricanes lacked confidence in their own power play, going 0-for-5 in 6:53 with the man advantage. Trocheck was on the ice for 4:16 of that penalty killing, more than any other New York forward.

If this Rangers season was a family meal, Trocheck would be the one organizing the place settings, stirring the meatballs, topping off everyone’s beverages and parking the cars.

In a season where the Rangers are closing in on their first Stanley Cup championship in 30 years, Vincent Trocheck is doing it all.

“He touches every part of the game,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “The entire year, he’s a guy that’s been counted on in so many situations, on both sides of the puck.”


THIS REGULAR SEASON Trocheck averaged 21:27 in ice time per game, with 3:29 on the power play and 1:35 on the penalty kill. In seven playoff games, he’s averaging 23:59, with 4:19 spent on the power play and 3:36 on the kill.

He was second on the Rangers behind his linemate Artemi Panarin in the regular season with 77 points (25 goals, 52 assists) in 82 games. Through seven playoff games, he’s tied with Mika Zibanejad with 12 points in seven games (five goals, seven assists). That includes four even-strength points, seven power-play points and one short-handed point.

While many thought the Rangers’ even-strength play would be a liability against the Hurricanes, Trocheck said that wasn’t a concern.

“I don’t think anybody’s thinking that we have to score at 5-on-5. If we win 4-0 and it’s two power-play goals and two short-handed goals, nobody cares. We just have to score,” he said. “We’re just trying to win games no matter how we can.”

It’s clear that Laviolette believes one of the most efficient ways to win playoff games is copious amounts of Vincent Trocheck. No Rangers skater has played more through their first seven games.

“It’s the playoffs now. You have games that are pushed into multiple overtimes, and yet his role doesn’t change. He’s part of every part of the game,” Laviolette said. “I’m double-shifting him just to get him back in the faceoff circle. Power play, penalty kill, 5-on-5 play. He just keeps answering the bell. It’s noticeable. He’s engaged. You can see it in his demeanor and the way that he’s playing the game.”

This might be Trocheck’s finest season in the NHL. Part of that is owed to his incredible line with Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere. No trio in the league played more together than they did (864 minutes). According to Evolving Hockey, Trocheck’s line averaged 3.76 goals per 60 minutes while giving up 2.27 goals per 60. They had an expected goals percentage of 54.9% at 5-on-5.

“Having chemistry with guys is important,” Trocheck said. “Having that continuity is important, too.”

In Game 3 against the Hurricanes on Thursday night, Panarin scored the overtime winner on a deflected pass from Trocheck, who had received the puck from Lafrenière.

“It was a great play for all three of them. They were able to get it in there, pick a puck up out of the corner,” Laviolette said. “Really nice play by Troch, and a great finish by Artemi.”

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Rangers go up 3-0 on Artemi Panarin’s OT winner

Artemi Panarin deflects it in between his legs to score the winning goal for the Rangers in overtime.

It was the second goal generated in the game by the line, as Lafreniere scored his third of the playoffs earlier in the third period to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.


THE DOMINANCE OF that line helped Panarin (49 goals, 120 points) and Lafreniere (28 goals, 57 points) to new career bests in the regular season. Trocheck had his second-best goal-scoring season and set a new career best with 77 points, the highest-scoring season of his 11-year career.

He went to the NHL All-Star Game for the second time, bringing his hockey-obsessed five-year-old son Leo with him to Toronto. “I was most excited to have him experience that,” Trocheck said.

Trocheck’s career began in Florida in 2013-14, but it’s his second NHL destination that’s been in the conversation lately. He played three seasons with the Hurricanes before signing a seven-year, $39.375 million free agent contract with the Rangers in 2022.

Former Hurricanes center Derek Stepan played with Trocheck in the 2021-22 season, and he’s not surprised that Trocheck has found another level with the Rangers.

“He just does so many things right,” Stepan said. “He’s good in the [faceoff] dot. He can create space for his linemates offensively. He can score goals. Defensively, he’s responsible in pretty much all situations. So he is just a complete player and he is one of those guys that you need to have on your team.”

There are over a dozen players on the current Hurricanes team that played with Trocheck, including in an intense seven-game second-round loss to the Rangers in 2022. But Trocheck said that the emotions of facing his former teammates in a playoff series didn’t impact him.

“It’s a playoff series that we need to get past to achieve our goal of winning the Stanley Cup,” Trocheck said. “I mean, I’ve played a bunch against these guys already. Playing against former teammates is nothing new. In this league, you move from team to team. It’s just another series.”

Laviolette, who won a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006, consulted Trocheck before the series for some intel on the Hurricanes. But Rod Brind’Amour, Trocheck’s former coach, said he didn’t design any game plans to handle Trocheck despite knowing his tendencies from his Hurricanes days.

“He was a great player for us. We wanted to keep him. This wasn’t a trade or anything like that. It’s just business,” Brind’Amour said. “Clearly he’s been a great player for them. It’s not shocking. We knew that. They got a good one.”

A good one on and off the ice. Stepan wasn’t surprised to hear how Trocheck had bonded with the Rangers behind the scenes, from the locker room to the dinner table in Pittsburgh. He knew that guy in Carolina. He knew what he could become in New York.

“He’s an awesome dude. Likes to hang out, likes to have fun. He understands that the game can’t be taken too seriously,” Stepan said. “He’s able to joke around with anybody and everybody. He works hard at being a good teammate with all of his guys.”

Stepan paused for a moment. “I know I’m blowing a lot of smoke up his rear end, but he is truly all those things. I’m really happy for him.”





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