New York Rangers shuffling of bottom six brings back the Swagger Line

new york rangers lines
Dec 4, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers right wings Barclay Goodrow (21) and Ryan Reaves (75) at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers shuffled line pairings at practice on Monday as they continue to search for some semblance of scoring balance.

Barclay Goodrow was reunited with center Kevin Rooney and winger Ryan Reaves in what I see as the optimal fourth line for Gerard Gallant. When grouped together, the trio had a number of great games, but COVID and injuries forced Goodrow up the lineup.

On the makeshift third line, Filip Chytil was centering Greg McKegg and Julien Gauthier, with Morgan Barron rotating in during the practice session. With the trade deadline less than a month away, Chris Drury needs to address this line in order to improve the offense.

Gallant looking for balance

Today’s line moves are likely prompted by the team’s inability to score since coming back from the break. In three games, the team has managed a grand total of five goals (two on the PP). Thanks to a stingy defense and Igor Shesterkin’s goaltending they’ve managed a 2-0-1 record.

“Our offense is good enough to win, that’s about it,” Gerard Gallant admitted. “I don’t think we’re playing our best game yet due to the long break. We played good shutdown hockey and it’s nice to win those type of games too. But we can bring more offense for sure.”

The coach said moving Dryden Hunt back to the second line was about looking for some balance. However, with the game against the Capitals days away on Thursday, things could look different before puck drop.

“It might change tomorrow morning if we sit in the coach’s room too long and look at our board. It’s a work in progress,” he said. “With Kaapo (Kakko) being out a little, you move things around and I wanted to make a change for tomorrow.”

The return of the Swagger Line

Kevin Rooney
Nov 24, 2021; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Kevin Rooney (17) celebrates his goal against New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) during the third period at UBS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Barclay Goodrow moving down reunites the “Swagger Line” as I called it back in November. When Goodrow, Reaves, and Rooney are playing together, they bring a high-level of crash and dash to the Rangers forward group.

The unit’s best game together was a 4-1 win over the Islanders at UBS Arena, where Reaves had two assists and Rooney scored twice. It was a performance that had the head coach beaming about the trio.

“They were great, they did their job tonight obviously,” Gallant said after that game. “Reavo made some great plays, Rooney got a couple of goals, and Goodrow was great. Our 4th line was the difference for me tonight.”

According to Natural Stat Trick, as a line they’ve played 102:21 minutes together with 5 GF and 3 GA.

NHL Dark Horses to win the Cup

The NHL playoffs are always filled with surprises and while there are a handful of favorites, here is one team from each division that is a dark horse to win the Stanley Cup. Read more.