Vincent Trocheck’s infuriating do-it-all game the missing link for Rangers

Vincent Trocheck’s infuriating do-it-all game the missing link for Rangers

This post-Hurricanes series wrap belongs to Vincent Trocheck. 

The Blueshirts Bedevil-er was an absolute pain in the neck for his former Carolina teammates in every which way: on the scoreboard, between whistles and through his bruising-yet-skilled play in all situations. 

There were moments where it looked like the players Trocheck once shared a locker room with wanted to take his head off. He never shut up. And if you can believe it, he was even louder when he had the puck on his stick. 

Vincent Trocheck moves the puck down ice as Seth Jarvis gives chase during a game in the Rangers-Hurricanes series. JASON SZENES FOR THE NEW YORK POST

The Rangers are now halfway to the Stanley Cup having only lost two games, after an epic third-period rally led by Chris Kreider in Game 6 Thursday night in Raleigh, N.C., secured their spot in the Eastern Conference Final. 

There’s no question — and no surprise — that goalie Igor Shesterkin, who made 33 saves in the series-clinching victory, is considered to be a frontrunner for the Conn Smythe, but Trocheck deserves to be in the conversation as well. 

“I mean, he’s been doing it since Day 1,” Kreider said after Thursday’s win with Trocheck sitting right next to him, sporting a sleek green and blue checkered suit. “I feel like he’s finally getting some of the attention he deserves. He’s a horse for us. He does everything. I mean, Jordan Staal is no small guy. He’s pretty good in the dot. Probably one of the best to ever do it. It’s incredible, every time he goes in to take faceoffs, he digs in, gives us a chance. Snaps a lot of them clean. 

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“Then beyond that, I mean, the way he carries the puck, the way he forechecks, physical. He does everything for us.”

There was no way to measure the future implications of Trocheck shedding his Canes jersey and pulling on a Rangers crest 44 days after he came out on the losing side of the 2022 series between the two clubs, but this season and these playoffs have put it in perspective. 

Vincent Trocheck is separated from Brent Burns by a referee as they exchange words during the Rangers’ series win over the Hurricanes. JASON SZENES FOR THE NEW YORK POST

In his second season with the Rangers, Trocheck has embodied that hard-to-play-against trait the organization had been chasing for years. 

He’s a dog in the faceoff circle, ranking fifth in the NHL playoffs with a 58.3 win percentage. His puck handling abilities, necessarily on par with his linemates in Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere, can sometimes come as a surprise coming from a guy who plays with so much snarl. 

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He can enrage opponents with one quip, throwing them off their game or causing them to take an ill-advised penalty. He will give you a thumbs up as you skate to the box just to twist the knife harder. 

Trocheck is simply infuriating. 

It’s a talent the Rangers haven’t had mastered since a guy named Sean Avery walked the halls of Madison Square Garden 11 years ago. It’s a characteristic the organization publicly set out to acquire because it was clear that was what they needed. 

Vincent Trocheck puts a shot on goal on Frederik Andersen during a game in the Rangers-Hurricanes series. JASON SZENES FOR THE NEW YORK POST

Whether it was his celebration of Alexis Lafreniere’s go-ahead goal in Game 3 by cheering in the face of Sebastian Aho, who cross-checked No. 16 in the back as he chipped the puck to Panarin in transition for the secondary assist on the play. Or the fearlessness he showed grinning up at the 6-foot-5 Brent Burns, who reached over an official’s shoulder to try to get at Trocheck for whatever he said or did at the time in Game 4.

From the double overtime winner in Game 2 after he led all skaters in ice time at 35:21 to the dish to Panarin on the overtime winner in Game 3, Trocheck has been all over this Rangers playoff run so far. 

Not only has he recorded a point in eight of 10 playoff games, but Trocheck has posted multi-point efforts in six of them. He is one of just three players to score at least six goals (with eight assists) through 10 games of a postseason for the Rangers over the past 20 years, joining Kreider and Michael Nylander. 

Other than maybe Maple Leafs captain John Tavares and Long Island, no pendulum has swung harder than that of North Carolina’s feelings toward Trocheck. 

I was actually sitting in the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, chatting with my dear colleague Larry Brooks about Trocheck’s series when suddenly…

“Trocheck is a weasel,” a young red-headed woman next to me spewed in disgust. 

“I used to love him when he played here. Now, he’s just a butthole.” 

That’s the Vincent Trocheck effect. 

Everybody wants that on their team. 

And the Rangers got him for the next five years.