NHL News

New York Rangers Need to Move Chytil to 2nd Line Permanently

Filip Chytil New York Rangers

New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant, never one to shy away from short- and long-term lineup experimentation, has been in the midst of a flurry of it, trying a myriad of combinations to spark his team’s 5-on-5 play of late. His latest overhaul bred success Jan. 23, when yet another group of new-look forward combinations sparked a 6-2 home victory over the Florida Panthers.

When it comes to one particular player, however, Gallant needs to put aside his pencil and well-worn eraser and grab a Sharpie. The coach needs to write Filip Chytil’s name into the top six in permanent marker, starting now.

The 23-year-old power center looked really good again in the win over the Panthers, manning the middle on the (once again) re-formed Kid Line. Chytil recorded four shots and was a plus-1 in 16 minutes of ice time, engaged throughout, attacking the net with his speed and size as he drove play for his familiar linemates. He scored an empty-net goal and added an assist, while his left wing Alexis Lafreniere scored for the first time in 18 games and also had assist. Their right wing, Kaapo Kakko, added two assists.

Rangerd center Filip Chytil (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In his last nine games, Chytil has recorded five goals and four assists while posting a plus-4 rating. Gallant is comfortable playing him in all situations, with Chytil’s sound defensive game and responsibility in his own end now impossible to ignore. With each contest, the 21st overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft reminds his teammates and coach that he can be a nightmare through the neutral zone and in the opponents’ end, difficult to knock off the puck if defenders can even overcome his elusiveness and quickness to reach him.

Chytil’s Game, Confidence Are Finally Soaring

Chytil might never be great on faceoffs. He’s at an abysmal 38.6 percent for the season after a combined 6-for-17 performance against the Boston Bruins on Jan. 19 and Florida. Yet there’s a small-sample size silver lining, as he was improving before the rough two-game stretch – in the 11 games prior, he won 50.0 percent (51 of 102) of his draws.

The point is, proficiency at the faceoff dot can be achieved by working at it. As with the rest of his game, it appears as if Chytil is doing just that. And it’s why Gallant needs to realize that Chytil is ready to run and to relax the reins by giving him an open-ended stay on the second line.

Filip Chytil New York Rangers
Filip Chytil celebrates a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in last year’s…

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