Now that Gerard Gallant has taken what appears to be the inevitable step of reuniting the kids’ streak, the Rangers coach had to make sure Philippe Chettle, Kabo Kaku and Alexis Lavrenier didn’t get the traditional third-line minutes.
This would defeat the purpose.
Chris Kreider will meet Mika Zibanegad while Jimmy Vessy – who has been among the best Rangers players since his health scrape against Columbus on October 23 – takes the right spot that Kakko has filled from day one.
Artemi Panarin will once again reunite with Vincent Trocheck and Vitali Kravtsov – who completed Job One by passing Tuesday’s Garden game against the Islanders unscathed – to form the unit that opened both the season and training camp.
But the news is that the kids, together for most of the camp, will officially meet for the first time since Game Five of the Conference Finals Series against Tampa Bay last June.
It’s not up to me, but it’s always good when we play together,” Sheetil told The Post. “Every time we play together, we have fun.
“We play hard, play our game and compete. This is our mentality. I am glad we are back together.”
The combination should inject some youthful energy into a seemingly tight group en route to a two-game trip, which begins in Detroit on Thursday and ends in Nashville on Saturday. Rangers have lost three consecutive times (0-2-1), have three wins in their last 10 games (3-4-3) and are below the finish line in the playoff 6-5-3 overall.
Chytil was rolling against the Islanders, playing between Kreider and Kravtsov on a temporary unit and scored in a one-time first-half that tied the score 1-1.
But Chytil played only 10:27 of the pair’s power time while Zibanejad played for 15:42 and Trocheck played for 14:43. After discounting the October 23 game against Columbus, in which Chetel was forced to suffer a concussion after just 11 seconds on the ice, he averaged 13:07 per game with equal power, with Troshik at 15:29 and Zipangad 14. :45.
Even more baffling than Tuesday’s total ice time is that Chytil played only 3:36 of equal-strength ice in the third period with Rangers leading 3-1 while Zibanejad was at 7:10 and Trocheck for 6:47. Chytil wasn’t on the ice after Blueshirts pulled forward Igor Shesterkin with 2:06 left.
Zibanejad and Trocheck are both in the first power-up and both in the top two unit kicks. Chytil, Kakko and Lafreniere are in the second power supply unit, which generally gets scraps. The payroll structure shouldn’t–I’m sure, not–get into this.
Chytil, who has four points (three goals and one assist, all of equal power) in eight games, leads the team with 2.0 goals per 60:00 in five against five, with Panarin next at 1.12. Chtyil also leads the club with 2.67 points per 60:00 in five against five, with Panarin next at 2.25.
“I’ve said it before, but it’s the confidence in my game that allows me to play the way I am now,” said the 23-year-old. “I saw in the playoffs that I could win fights, that I was strong enough to win the 50s and 50s. “I have a lot more puck and I can create more chances.”
While the chemistry between Chytil, Kakko, and Lafreniere is clear, this is still a work in progress between Panarin and Trocheck. In his first three seasons in New York, Panarin scored 164 goals and 99 goals against (five for five), with a ratio of 62.4. This year, Panarin has run for nine for and 14 against, equaling 39.1 percent.
The first batch of numbers was compiled with Ryan Strom as the owner of Panarin. There’s work to be done between Panarin and the new number 16, Trocheck, whose game doesn’t seem to naturally include a delayed item.
Meanwhile, Zebaninejad and Kreider must raise their work level from five to five. He has mentioned more than once how Zebani Nejad does not have a five out of five goal. Even more surprising is that Zipanegad has only two points in a game of 187:15 of a game of five against five. It seems almost impossible.
It’s not as if the units led by Zibanijad and Troshik were in control. On the contrary. Thus, Galant must cool off the icy time between the top three and the top nine units. Chytil should go out there in more regular rotations. It is in everyone’s interest.