Rangers forward needs to have the puck as much as possible
After a disappointing shutout loss – or win if you’re a pro-tanker – to the Flyers Tuesday night, the Rangers woes continue. There has been some argument amongst fans about some of the choices Coach Quinn is making; what to do with certain players, and a whole lot of other gossips that comes with a rebuilding team.
As fans, there has not been much to hang our hats on this season with the exception of a couple of things. For one, I recently wrote a piece on how Mika Zibanejad should be on the “walled-off” list, and he continues to prove me right. The Swedish center has come into his own as a 1C and is the best player for the young Rangers night in and night out. I also recently wrote a piece on the production of 19-year-old Czech Filip Chytil. In this post, I am going to take a deeper dive into the young Czech and not only his point production, but some of his underlying numbers as well.
When Chytil came into the league, everyone spoke of his raw talent. His high skill, great skating, and silky hands were obvious from the start, but he needed some grooming. Chytil, now playing in his first full season, has had the year most 19-year-olds have in the NHL – up and down. I am not here to talk about the season that has been for Chytil in terms of point production and lineup moves, but, rather, how he should model his game. No, I am not a coach, but I do see tendencies in Chytil and have my thoughts on how he should play.
Every time Chytil is on the ice, there seems to be offensive production for the Rangers. For what felt like every time Chytil was on the ice against the Flyers on Tuesday night, his line was creating scoring chances. For me, this is not about creating chances with Chytil, but it’s how he plays with the puck. Since the start of this season, I have said over and over again that Chytil needs to play with the puck on his stick more often. Take a look at the chart below. These are some of Chytil’s underlying numbers this season.
For those of you unaware of what this chart means, here it is in layman’s terms. Filip Chytil should be the person taking the puck out of his own zone and into the opponent’s zone. He has outstanding numbers in that regard. Chytil’s skating ability, long reach, and hockey IQ are beneficial to him when exiting his own zone and leading the rush. The problem is that he does not do it enough. Yes, Chytil is a playmaker when he is off the puck, but I really think he would best be deployed as someone who is in possession of the puck.
Now, I am going to give you a comparison here, but I want you to take it with a grain of salt. Chytil should be trying to mimic his game after Islanders superstar Mathew Barzal. Yes, I know that Barzal is a far superior player – top-15 player in the league in my opinion – with better skating ability and skill than Chytil. All I am saying is that Chytil should watch how Barzal plays with the puck and try to model his game after that. Barzal is maybe the best player on the puck in the entire league; a statement that was recently backed up by the great Sidney Crosby. I want to see Chytil do stuff like this when he has the puck coming out of his own zone.
Chytil is having a very good rookie year, for a 19-year-old. He is on pace for 30 points and will only continue to grow. I know he is still developing, but I would really like to see him start playing with the puck on his stick more like the reigning Calder trophy winner Barzal does. Again, let me be clear in that I am NOT comparing Chytil to Barzal in any way. I just want him to model his game after him because I do think that he is capable to do a great job on zone entries and exits as we see Barzal does.