New York Rangers change up power play, Vitali Kravtsov back in lineup

New York Rangers Vitali Kravtsov
Dec 2, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers right wing Vitali Kravtsov (74) celebrates with his teammates after scoring in the first period against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are actually making a change to their first power play unit and it’s not Vladimir Tarasenko slotting in for Vincent Trocheck.

Filip Chytil, who is more than happy to shoot the puck, has been moved up to the team’s top unit. Meanwhile, Vladimir Tarasenko will be featured on the second unit and Trocheck will replace K’Andre Miller.

“Bringing in Tarasenko is going to help our top-six, there’s no doubt about that,” Gerard Gallant said. “He deserves to play on one of the two (pp units). As you saw this morning, there’s two pretty good units… Fil’s got a good set of hands and he’s been pretty hot lately.”

Chytil, 23, is on fire right now with 11 goals in his last 13 games.

New York Rangers welcome Vladimir Tarasenko

The Blueshirts are certainly feeling the buzz that was generated by the trade that landed the talented winger on Thursday. No one looked happier than Tarasenko, who will be playing with good friend, Artemi Panarin.

“I talked before a little with Artemi and I happy to join the New York Rangers,” Tarasenko said via the team’s YouTube Channel. “The group guys seem very nice and they gave me a warm welcome. It feels very good.”

Tarasenko, 31, will be a UFA in July and has 29 points in 38 games this season. For his career, Tarasenko has amassed 553 points in 644 regular-season games all with the Blues. He won the Stanley Cup with them in 2019.

“They wanted me here and I want to be here too,” Tarasenko noted. “It’s a big team. One of my best friend plays here and they have a chance to win the Cup. That’s our motivation.”

The relationship between him and Panarin met playing for Russia at the World Junior Championships in 2011. They’ve been friends ever since.

Not to get lost in the stargazing, defenseman Niko Mikkola will also be making his Rangers debut.

“I’m just going to try and bring my game playing defense hard,” Mikkola said. “Play the simple way. So probably the same role (in St. Louis) and PK.”

Mikkola, 26, will also be a UFA this summer and has notched just 3 assists in 50 games. However, at 6-4′ and 210 pounds it’s not points the Rangers are looking for. This season, he ranked third on the Blues in hits (96) and blocked shots (68) prior to the trade.

Vitali Kravtsov gets another chance

vitali kravtsov new york rangers
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest surprises was seeing Vitali Kravtsov not only being reinserted into the lineup, but being given a chance on the second line.

Per multiple reports, here’s how the lines and d-pairs are shaping up:

  • Panarin – Zibanejad – Tarasenko
  • Kreider – Trocheck – Kravtsov
  • Lafrenière – Chytil – Kakko
  • Vesey – Goodrow – Gauthier
  • Lindgren – Fox
  • Miller – Trouba
  • Mikkola – Schneider
  • Shesterkin
  • Halak

“We want to give him an opportunity,” Gallant said. “You’re getting back in and playing with some skilled players to see if it works out. I want to see him put the puck in the net. He’s shown some good spurts but it wasn’t enough. We’ll see what he does.”

Things were looking up for Vitali Kravtsov with the New York Rangers after a series of early injuries and healthy scratches limited him to just 10 of the team’s first 27 games.

In that span, the 23 year-old skilled winger notched just two points. However, beginning on December 15, Kravtsov suited up for every game and played in 17 straight. This allowed the 2018 first-round pick to add another four points to his totals which now stands at six (3G -3A).

However, being demoted to the fourth line didn’t suit his game and he was eventually scratched in favor of prospect Will Cuylle for the last four games. With the Rangers opting to send Cuylle down yesterday, it presented another chance for the former 9th overall pick in 2018 to prove himself again.

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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