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Clendening Finding Rhythm With Rangers

Defenseman building chemistry with Skjei

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Rangers defenseman Adam Clendening is expected to play his seventh consecutive game Sunday afternoon against the Red Wings in Detroit, marking the first time this season he's played in that many games in a row during his first season on Broadway.

"It's definitely nice to know in the back of your head that you've got another game if you make a mistake or something like that play in Toronto … I know I have a practice today to work and get another chance tomorrow afternoon," Clendening told Saturday.

"I think knowing the confidence of going back in and having the same reps and not having to kind of … play a perfect game definitely lets you play more into your rhythm," Clendening added.

The proof is in the pudding for Clendening. He has assists in back-to-back games and five points since returning to the lineup Jan. 4 in Philadelphia and is averaging 16:01 of ice time, including 19:19 in Montreal last Saturday.

Clendening knows part of his job is to provide offense from the blueline, but also understands his role to provide solid play in his own zone as well.

"Scoring - it's not all about this for me - and creating some offense and getting on the scoresheet is nice to see, especially when you kind of have that offensive side to your game," Clendening said. "I think defensively it's gone pretty well. I'm a young guy. I'm going to have my lapses every now and then. If I can limit that to less than one a game or one every couple of games, that would be nice.

"I think that comes with playing more and more and more and not having breaks in between games," Clendening added. "I thought as I've played more in a row, the defensive side of the puck and my play away from the puck has gotten much better."

Thursday's performance in Toronto was a positive one for not only Clendening, but his partner Brady Skjei, who had a goal and an assist in the 5-2 victory.

Clendening said the two compliment each other well.

"I think we both like to skate, we both like to have the puck," Clendening said. "We like to make plays. I think that helps both of us. We kind of know that we have to give each other an option and if you do, you're probably going to get the puck. He's a great skater, he's probably one of the best on the team. For me it's nice to know that in the back of my head if we get in trouble, we've got Brady to skate us out of trouble. I think that helps."

Skjei praised Clendening's skill, as well as the way he sees the game, which allows the duo to contribute in the offensive zone.

"He's a very smart player and he's got a lot of skill," Skjei said. "I think we can both jump in the offense and kind of read off each other. He can skate too. If I get a chance that I can go up in the play, he can cover for me too."

Despite being two young players - Clendening is 24, Skjei 22 - Clendening said there's trust between them and that breeds confidence.

"I think we both trust each other as well," Clendening said. "That's a big thing. We're both young and relatively still new to the League. I think we have trust in ourselves and trust in each other that we can play against any line that we're up there against."

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