Kaapo Kakko scratched for Rangers in Game 2 against Panthers

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Kaapo Kakko is a healthy scratch for the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Florida Panthers.

The 23-year-old forward was not one of the 13 forwards who took part in pregame warmups at Madison Square Garden. It’s his first healthy scratch since Game 6 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The decision to remove Kakko from the lineup is a surprise, but not a huge one. Kakko has one goal and one assist in 11 playoff games this spring. Though his underlying numbers are not bad, Kakko has just two points and 17 shots on goal.

New York’s third line hasn’t produced much offensively so far in the postseason. It has scored just two goals, the other by Will Cuylle. Alex Wennberg has one assist and eight shots on goal in 11 games.

“I feel we’re getting chances and spending some time in the (offensive) zone, not giving up too many chances against. That’s playoff hockey, but you still need to score sometimes,” Kakko told Gannett following the morning skate. “We’ve been hitting posts sometimes and it’s close, but still not there. Hopefully, more goals are coming, but I’m still happy about our game.”

Related: 1994 Stanley Cup winners believe Rangers have what it takes to rebound against Panthers

Matt Rempe reinserted into Rangers lineup for Game 2 against Panthers

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With Kakko scratched, Matt Rempe returned to the lineup to play on the fourth line with Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey. Cuylle, who played on the fourth line in the 3-0 Game 1 loss, moved back up to the third line.

Rempe had been scratched two straight games and four of the previous five after playing in the first six games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 6-foot-8 rookie scored New York’s first goal of the postseason in Game 1 of the first round against the Washington Capitals and will be tasked with providing overall energy and grit on the forecheck, areas the Rangers were lacking in the series opener.

Filip Chytil, who played nine minutes on the third line in Game 1, only his second game in more than six months after sustaining an upper-body injury believed to be a concussion Nov. 2, moved up to a line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider to start Game 2. Jack Roslovic moved down to the third line.

Blake Wheeler, who hasn’t played since February because of a lower-body injury, was the 13th forward participating in warmups. The 37-year-old was scratched, however.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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