Rangers Recall: Costly win, Will Cuylle surging, and Kaapo Kakko struggling
The New York Rangers limped out of Madison Square Garden with a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night. An important win against a team that they will likely battle, along with the New Jersey Devils, for first place in the Metropolitan Division all season.
However, it came at a cost, with both Adam Fox and Filip Chytil forced out of action due to injuries. At this time, there’s no word on the extent of the injuries, but any significant amount of time for either player will be a challenge for the Rangers to overcome.
Let’s recall some of the key takeaways from the Rangers win over the Hurricanes, which will now bring their streak to six straight.
Rangers Recall: A costly win versus Carolina
Adam Fox and Filip Chytil injured
In the first period, Sebastian Aho interfered with Adam Fox, who was making his way to the net, causing a knee-on-knee collision. Immediately, Fox went down in pain, clutching his leg, but got up to complain to the referee. It seemed like a bullet was dodged, as Fox played a little after the hit. Unfortunately, he left later in the period and did not return.
As for Filip Chytil, it’s unclear what caused the injury, but in the first period he was hit hard in the chest by Jesper Fast. Although Chytil’s glove came flying off, it was Fast who found his rear end on the ice. A shot by MSG Network cameras showed Chytil in a little discomfort that may have lingered, eventually leading to him leave later in the second period.
“They’re both going to be evaluated tomorrow,” Peter Laviolette updated. “Adam has an upper-body (injury) and Fil has a lower-body injury. I went in and looked at (the hit on Fox) after the period and I didn’t like it.”
Fox, 25, has registered 3 goals and 8 assists for 11 points in 10 games this season. If he is out for any length of time, Zac Jones will get the nod on the third pair with Braden Schneider. This will probably thrust Erik Gustafsson into a top-4 role with Ryan Lindgren, but on the right side.
Chytil, 24, has 6 assists through 10 matches on the year. His loss will move Barclay Goodrow into a third line center role and bump up Vincent Trocheck up to the second line. Tyler Pitlick would replace Chytil if he’s out.
The Rangers have cancelled today’s practice, so official word on their injuries may not come out until pre-game skate in Minnesota on Saturday.
Will Cuylle surging
The highlight of the win over Carolina, was rookie Will Cuylle scoring his first goal ever on home ice, which was the game-winner.
“I saw [Trouba] pinch down the wall and I found a little lane for him to find me,” Cuylle smiled. “First goal at MSG and it was a big one. I’m pretty happy.”
This season, the 21 year-old has 2 goals in 10 games, on 12 shots for a 16.7 shooting percentage. Although he averages just 12:55 per night, Cuylle is one of the Rangers’ most notable players each and every game leading the team in hits with 25. His physicality, coupled with his speed and hard shot, is making him a fan favorite.
According to NHL Edge, Cullye’s top skating speed is 22.29 mph, which places him in the league’s 85th percentile. His aforementioned shooting percentage is good for 82%. Furthermore, half his shots on goal come from high danger areas on the ice, which is something one of his teammates should take notice.
Kaapo Kakko struggling
While the top line of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Kaapo Kakko are performing well as a unit with regard to possessing the puck, the end results, especially five-on-five, have yet to show. That being said, Kakko is the biggest issue on that line, because he’s turning one of his strengths into a weakness.
When it comes to controlling play and holding onto to the puck, especially along the boards, Kakko is a beast. Unfortunately, his penchant for constantly playing along the perimeter isn’t helping him score goals, or get points.
The Rangers did not draft Kakko second overall in 2019 to be a puck retriever or a straight up assist man; they need him to put some pucks in the net. That starts by getting off the wall and into the middle of the ice more.
According to NHL Edge, only 5 of his 13 shots on goal have come from high-danger areas. Matter of fact, 5 of his shots have come from his favorite spot on the ice, the right wing boards.
Kakko, 22, has just one goal and one assist on the year in 10 games. While he hasn’t seen a big uptick in ice time from last season, due mostly to not killing penalties and playing on the second power play unit, he’s still on the top line. Which means he has to produce more and that will only happen if he uses his big frame to get into the dirty areas where goals are scored.