Rangers coach not saying if lineup changes in store against Hurricanes in 2nd round

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Peter Laviolette is not about to share any lineup decision ahead of the New York Rangers’ Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Carolina Hurricanes. But the Rangers coach did make it a point to mention Carolina’s team speed being an important part of this best-of-7 several times when he met with reporters Wednesday.

So, does that mean Laviolette is contemplating a change or two in New York’s lineup to combat Carolina’s relentless attack and overall speed? And would he make changes to a lineup that swept the Washington Capitals in four straight games during the first round?

“I’m probably not going to talk about the lineup,” Laviolette said. “I do like the fact that we were consistent through those four games. The series is over and now we have a new series, a new opponent and will make decisions on what we need.”

Related: First-place Rangers open as second-round underdogs against Hurricanes

Rangers ‘need to be ready’ to combat Hurricanes’ team speed, Peter Laviolette says

NHL: New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Clearly, Carolina’s attacking style and quickness with which it plays is on Laviolette’s mind. He mentioned it more than once in his first media gathering since finding out the Rangers will play the Hurricanes in the second round. Carolina eliminated the New York Islanders with a 6-3 win in Game of the Eastern Conference First Round on Tuesday.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re playing the game we want to play,” Laviolette said. “We know it’s going to be fast. We know it’s going to be competitive. That’s when we’re at our best and that’s when they’re at their best as well — they’re on the attack, checking forward, pressing, pressing, pressing. We have to be ready for that. We have to be ready from a speed standpoint and a compete standpoint.”

If the Blueshirts do make any personnel changes to start this series, it would likely affect the bottom- six. So, nothing major would be considered by Laviolette. But, perhaps, inserting the swift Jonny Brodzinski in place of the rugged Matt Rempe could be an option on the fourth line — this despite how Rempe affected the first-round series in a positive way in limited ice time for New York.

Or perhaps Filip Chytil could be an option to rejoin the lineup. Chytil has not played since sustaining an upper-body injury believed to be a concussion in a game against the Hurricanes on Nov. 2 at Madison Square Garden. However, he’s been practicing for a few weeks, and even took a resting Artemi Panarin’s place on the Vincent Trocheck line at practice Wednesday.

“Again, I’m probably not going to talk about lineup decisions,” said the coach.

Laviolette wasn’t the only one to discuss Carolina’s relentless attack following practice. The Rangers are aware of it, though they largely did a good job handling it, winning two of three games in the season series, allowing just one goal in the two victories.

“They’re fast,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said. “They close fast, they move the puck quick, they throw a lot of pucks at the net. It’s just fast hockey. They’ll swarm at times. They can get going and you’ve just got to keep your cool in your own zone at times, get the puck out, live to fight another day. But they come in waves. They’re good in the [defensive] zone, they control the puck in the offensive zone and they get a lot of looks at the net.”

But does this mean the Rangers will change a winning lineup when the puck drops on this second-round series?

The coach isn’t saying.

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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