Practice Report: Rangers New Look Lineup With Chytil and Andersson
With the call-ups of Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson, the Rangers have and will continue to have a number of decisions to make. Where will they slot their abundance of top-nine forwards? How will they get quality ice time for the prospects while not stapling other guys to the bench? Who will shift to the wing and who will remain at center? For now, those questions were answered this morning.
NYR lines: Kreider-Zibanejad-Fast, Hayes-Chytil-Zuccarello, Vesey-Andersson-Spooner, McLeod-Namestnikov-Buchnevich. AV said Chytil and Andersson might get some PK time. PP units rolling now so unlikely they get PP time.
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) March 26, 2018
CENTER OF ATTENTION
Chytil and Andersson will both be playing their natural center position. Allowing Chytil and Andersson to get experience at the position they were drafted and which they will be expected to contribute is most important. While there is a case to be made to allow them to get their feet wet on the wing, the Rangers need them to play center, and moving them back and forth between wing and center will only hinder their development.
With Chytil and Andersson taking the second and third center slots, Kevin Hayes was moved to the wing on the second line with Chytil and Mats Zuccarello.In addition, Vladislav Namestnikov will be centering the fourth line with Cody McLeod and Pavel Buchnevich. The three main surprises here are Cody McLeod, Kevin Hayes, and Pavel Buchnevich. Someone was going to have to move to wing and someone was going to have to move down. With Namestikov’s overall lack of production since joining the Rangers, just three points in his 12 games on Broadway, it is understandable that he was dropped to the fourth line while allowing Kevin Hayes to remain in the top-six.
Pavel Buchnevich continues to be the guy getting the short end of the stick. However, if you take a closer look, it is not necessarily because of poor play. Jesper Fast has been tearing it up on the top line. He was not going to be sent down while playing this well. Ryan Spooner and Kevin Hayes have also been playing extremely well, producing at an elevated clip since the deadline. They deserve top line minute, and AV isn’t moving Mats Zuccarello out of the top-six. This leaves Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey. I would prefer to see Buchnevich over Vesey, but Vesey has been scoring at a high rate over the past few weeks, highlighted by a hat trick and nearly a second hat trick since the trade deadline. Dropping Vesey would be rewarding his high production with a fourth line demotion.
Cody Mcleod is the real surprise. The Rangers have David Desharnais, Paul Carey, and Peter Holland available to play but chose to go with McLeod. McLeod is as much of an enforcer as you will find in today’s game and seems to fly in the face of the speed/depth game that the Rangers and NHL are heading. However, one could argue that a tough guy in the lineup will provide some level of protection for the prized youngsters. Personally, I believe the Rangers should have gone a different route, however, it is not as big a deal as we all think it is. At the end of the day, as Dan Rosen points out, the 12th forward is not a huge deal.
Lots of angry responses to NYR's lines, McLeod in. Look, I get it. My take: AV wants Namestnikov with Buchnevich. McLeod in as protection for Andersson, Chytil. Hate that reasoning, but that's probably it. Trial run. Expect mixing and matching. Don't get caught up in the lines.
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) March 26, 2018
McLeod will probably see between 6-10 minutes of ice time and the remainder of his minutes will be split with a rotation of the top-nine wingers.
DON’T FREAK OUT
Regardless of how the rest of the season shakes out, the Rangers lineup will continue to change and we will continue to gripe about every detail. I am not an AV supporter, however, this is not as bad as you think. The Rangers have eleven “top-nine” forwards. Different players are going to get the short end of the stick. But at the end of the day, Chytil and Andersson’s development is of the utmost importance.