Igor Shesterkin set to start as Kaapo Kakko rejoins the “kids line”; Kravtsov on fourth line

kaapo kakko
Oct 12, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) skates up ice during the second period against the Edmonton Oilers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Another day, another uproar over the New York Rangers lines.

The Rangers ready themselves to face the Penguins tomorrow at the Garden and will do so with Igor Shesterkin back in the net. However, today’s line combinations have Colin Blackwell moved up to play with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome. Kaapo Kakko was moved to the third line with Vitali Kravtsov going to the fourth line left wing.

New York Rangers shuffle kids around

“When you make one adjustment your whole lineup changes,” Quinn began to explain. “We like the way Kaapo’s played but we wanted to give the second line a different look with Blackwell.” The head coach noted that another reason for the move was to get Kakko and the rest of the kids line away from the other team’s top forwards and defensive pairings.

The next two games against the Penguins will be played at MSG and thus Quinn will have the last change in order to get the kids line a better matchup. While the reasoning is logical, it would likely be better for Kakko to continue to gel with two of the Rangers better forwards. At the same time it’s hard to argue against Blackwell as he’s been one of the more productive forwards with three goals in his last four games.

Another factor some may be disregarding is building up Blackwell’s value as a potential trade candidate. The Blueshirts have only four games remaining before the NHL trade deadline.

Vitali Kravtsov on the fourth line

vitali kravtsov
BUFFALO, NY – APRIL 3: Vitali Kravtsov #74 of the New York Rangers warms up before playing in his first career NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres on April 3, 2021 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

As for Vitali Kravtsov, he admitted today that the speed of the game was a bit of a struggle for him. Quinn has him on a fourth line with Julien Gauthier and Kevin Rooney which should help him continue to transition to the NHL pace. “That doesn’t mean [Kravtsov] is gonna be down there forever or even during the whole game,” Quinn noted. “You can move people around.”

Quinn also made it a point to talk directly with Kakko to make sure he understood the move. This speaks volumes to the young players as many older coaches would not go out of their way to explain it to them. So while this isn’t ideal at the moment; it needs to play out not only tomorrow but over the course of the next few games.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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