Rangers building chemistry with new lines after trade deadline

NHL: St. Louis Blues at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

In the first game following the NHL trade deadline, the New York Rangers put forth a complete effort top to bottom, blanking the St. Louis Blues 4-0. New additions Alex Wennberg and Jack Roslovic appeared to fit right in, and the new-look fourth line was also very effective.

“It’s always more challenging, I think, jumping into something new, new line mates, and not even really a skate together,” coach Peter Laviolette explained. “I thought for them jumping into a new team, new system, new line up, and a new building, it’s exciting, but it can be challenging as well. I thought they played a really good game.”

Alex Wennberg finds quick chemistry on Rangers line with Kaapo Kakko, Will Cuylle

NHL: St. Louis Blues at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Wennberg registered his first point as a Ranger, assisting on a Kaapo Kakko goal in the third period. He fit in nicely, centering Kakko and Will Cuylle on the third line. Cuylle thrived with five shots on goal, including three excellent scoring chances in the second period alone.

“I thought Wennberg’s line with Kakko and Cuylle were really good,” said Laviolette. “They were good defensively, generated chances, and on the power play their unit got out there. They did some good things with that as well.”

The 29-year-old center registered 15:12 of ice time in his first game as a Blueshirt. He also played on the penalty kill and had a partial shorthanded break in the second period that led to a penalty against the Blues. He’s expected to add depth to the center position that the Rangers have been searching for since losing Filip Chytil for the remainder of the season.

“It was good. Obviously, it’s been a lot of things going on,” Wennberg said. “For me, coming in here, maybe the first couple of shifts were a little rusty, but for me, it felt great. Coming to a great team here as well, and at the end of the day, all that matters is the win and getting the points here.”

Also, worth noting was his instant chemistry with Cuylle on that third line.

“I feel like we were finding each other pretty well,” said Wennberg. “These are guys I’ve never played with before, it takes some time to build chemistry, but right away you feel like there’s something there. I’m excited to see what we can build on.”

Jack Roslovic doesn’t miss beat in first game on top line with Rangers

NHL: St. Louis Blues at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Roslovic did not find the scoresheet, but had two shots on goal and six shot attempts in 16:21 of ice time on the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. He also hit the crossbar in the third period with a shot.

“You have to get used to it,” Roslovic explained. “I think we did a pretty good job at trying to spark something and so anytime we can come in and get a win, that’s what I’m here for.”

Laviolette was pleased with the new addition to the top line, and is hoping he can spark the offensive game at even strength for both Zibanejad and Kreider. This was one of the top priorities as the deadline was approaching.

“I thought that Roslovic did a really good job bringing speed and having the puck on his stick, creating in the offensive zone,” Laviolette mentioned. “That line looked dangerous to me.”

Rangers fourth-line flourishing

NHL: St. Louis Blues at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Another positive to the new additions in New York’s lineup is that it created a new look on the fourth line. After sending Adam Edstrom to Hartford of the American Hockey League and scratching Jonny Brodzinski, the fourth line of Jimmy Vesey, Barclay Goodrow and Matt Rempe proved to be very effective in their first game together.

In addition to playing fast and physical hockey that is tough to play against, the trio was able to generate offense as well. Vesey registered the second goal for the Rangers, assisted by Goodrow. In addition, Rempe missed out on a goal by a fraction of an inch, when he beat St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington cleanly, but the puck hit the post and never fully crossed the goal line in the second period. It was a great sign for the Rangers, as depth scoring has been an issue at times this season.

“I think it was just fore-checking, and (Rempe) played great,” explained Vesey. “He was in on the fore-check all night, taking the body, turning pucks over. I thought our line could have had a bunch of goals tonight.”

With the additions of Wennberg and Roslovic, along with the new-look fourth line, the Rangers finally have the depth that they have been searching for following injuries to Chytil and Blake Wheeler. They will look to build on their 4-0 victory against the Blues when they play the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes in a set of back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday.

The contest in Carolina will be one of their most important games this season, as the Hurricanes are just two points back of the Rangers in the Metropolitan Division. After adding Jake Guentzel and Evgeny Kuznetsov, they too have additional depth and scoring.

For the Rangers, the goal will be to continue building chemistry with the new additions and continue putting up 60-minute efforts as they did against the Blues. This is especially important as each game carries more significance in terms of the playoff race.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

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