The future is now, folks – Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil are both on-ice members of the New York Rangers and for the most part, the fanbase is pleased as punch. After a pretty disappointing year (nonsensical coaching, injuries to star players, general malaise) we finally have something genuine to be excited about, something not couched in caveats or qualifiers. I too, am excited, but unfortunately I have to be the bearer of bad news: although Andersson and Chytil have certainly shown great promise, they’re still diamonds in the rough.
Let’s start with the bad news: last night both Chytil and Andersson got caved in as far as shots go, with Chytil being on ice for 11 shots for and 16 shots against, while Andersson was on ice for 11 shots for and a whopping 21 shots against. Expected goals is a little bit better, with Chytil being on ice for 0.94 xGF and 1.00 xGA, with Andersson being on ice for 0.52 xGF and 1.80 xGA. Not exactly a great night, but Chytil did have his first NHL goal, and made some nice plays with Mats Zuccarello, and the Rangers broadly got hammered in terms of shots and expected goals, so there’s that.
Chytil again did alright for himself on Wednesday, but Andersson got cooked yet again – 13 shots for and 14 shots against for the Czech youngster and 4 shots for and 18 shots against (!) for the Swede. Expected goals actually puts Chytil in positive territory this time at 0.79 xGF and 0.43 xGA, but Andersson also had a bad game in that category: 0.08 xGF and 0.89 xGA. Yowza.
Lastly we have Monday’s game, where our future captain Andersson (half joking, half not) scored his first goal of his NHL career. Indeed, this game was much better for young Lias all around – 15 shots for and 9 against, as well as 0.78 xGF and 0.58 xGA. Chytil also had a nice game, with his on-ice shot differential being 17 to 12 and his on-ice xG differently being 0.90 to 0.12. All in all the kind of showing we’d hope for from these two budding Blueshirts as they progress through their early NHL careers.
I guess what I’m getting at is this: while they’re both great players to be excited about, actual on-ice results paint a little bit more mixed of a picture. Of course, in general the Rangers played pretty lousy on Wednesday and Friday, so it’s not a shocker that both of our former first-rounders fared a little bit poorly, and we’re of course dealing with the world’s smallest sample size here. Still, as far as the eye test goes they’re both making smart plays, with Lias being a little bit more defensive savvy and Chytil making excellent passes with his new best bud Mats Zuccarello.
Another upside of the fact that they’re having a couple of rough games is that come October, they’ll be ready to start cooking right out the gate, because if you recall some recent Rangers rookies (Brady Skjei in particular comes to mind) it’s not always pretty for the first few outings, but that doesn’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things once the break-in period is over. The future is here for sure, but they’re diamonds in the rough for now. That still won’t stop me from being excited to see them shine in the fall.