Should Gallant breakup the New York Rangers ‘Kid Line’?
The New York Rangers struggled mightily offensively against the Carolina Hurricanes in their Game 1 loss on Wednesday night.
One line that had no issue presenting a threat to the Canes was the appropriately named “Kid Line”.
The line is comprised of Alexis Lafrenière (20 y/o), Filip Chytil (22 y/o), and Kaapo Kakko (21 y/o). They’ve done a solid job for the Blueshirts so far in the postseason.
Chytil scored the lone Rangers goal against the Canes assisted by Lafrenière early in the first period. After that the only great scoring chances I can recall came off the stick of Chytil again, who was robbed by Antti Raanta with a stretching left pad save.
Late in the third period, Kakko had the game on his stick but shot the puck across the crease on a wide-open net. These were by the best chances in the game for the Blueshirts.
“I think we can take a lot of positives from [Wednesday],” Chytil said. “I think (for) two-and-a-half periods we play (how) we want to play and we dictated the tempo of the game. We have to build on this game and take all the positives to another game.”
Which begs the question: Should Gerard Gallant breakup the “Kid Line”?
New York Rangers Kid Line
“I think about [breaking them up] quite a bit, but I’m going to leave them alone,” Gallant admitted on Friday.
“When you have one of your lines going well like the “Kid Line” and you start to move them up and down, you can mess up something that was good.”
Gallant’s reservation to not break them up is a wise one. The chemistry between the three of them is obvious and you almost get the sense that their lack of playoff experience (which means no bad experiences) makes them more carefree than some of the vets.
“They’re playing free, loose and they’re happy,” Gallant said. “You worry if they’re ready for this as coaches but they’ve responded. They’re just having fun.”
Alexis Lafrenière driving that line
The Kids have been alright for sure, but it is the youngest member of the group that is driving that line.
Coming in as a rookie last season with all the pressure of being the #1 overall pick in the 2020 Draft, Lafrenière has always maintained a positive attitude. It’s shining brightly in his first ever postseason.
“Laffy’s personality is to go out and have fun,” Gallant explained. “It’s rubbing off on the other two and they’ve done a good job.”
Lafrenière has picked up two goals and five points so far in these playoffs. What’s really impressive has been his physical play as he’s laid 21 hits on opposing players.
Chytil is now showing real confidence and is shooting more with 17 shots through 8 games. He’s registered 2 goals and 3 points.
Kakko, who probably should have three of four goals when you look at the way he’s played, has 1 goal and 1 assist. They’ve combined for 45 shots as a group.
How would you break them up?
Gallant noted that he would consider making changes during the game if he feels the team needs a shakeup.
But how would you break them up?
The player you’d most likely want to move up is Lafrenière, but he is a left wing and you won’t be demoting Chris Kreider or Artemi Panarin. That mean’s he would slide to the right side on the first or second line.
Both Frank Vatrano and Andrew Copp can play either wing.
The other possibility is to move Kakko up to either of the top two lines giving the units a different a look.
Truthfully, I don’t see any reason for Gallant to separate the kids. Not just because they are playing well, but I believe the Rangers probably have the best line combinations they’ve had all season.
Which begs the question, who comes out when Barclay Goodrow is healthy? That’s for another day.
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