Following the unexpected scratching of Filip Chytil in favor of Greg McKegg the last two games, the role of the Rangers bottom six role has come into focus. On most true Stanley Cup contending teams, the bottom six is usually comprised of some level of scoring and shutdown combination. The Rangers, right now, have neither.
The third line right now, with McKegg as the center, is basically a minutes eating line with no role. The fourth line is basically the same thing, must with arguably worse players. With Chris Drury at the helm, the Rangers were expected to have specific roles for each player and each line. Right now, the players may have a role, or at least a perceived role, but the trios do not.
Even when (if?) Chytil comes back to the third line, that only bumps McKegg (or Morgan Barron) out of the lineup. This still leaves a third line that can’t score consistently, and a fourth line without a defined role other than eating minutes.
GG on the decision to play McKegg at center:
"It’s just the experience thing. Kegger is an experienced guy, and we feel with our systems, that an experienced guy is better in the middle right now. Barron will be a good centerman down the road, but we like him on the wing, too."
— Vince Z. Mercogliano (@vzmercogliano) February 26, 2022
From the quote about why McKegg was at center over Barron, and perhaps coupling with why Chytil was scratched, we can infer that Gallant wants a different look at 3C. Barron notwithstanding here, as we don’t know what his future holds. But as of now, it doesn’t take a galaxy brain to see that Chytil may not be what Gallant wants.
This again takes us back to what Gallant expects from his bottom six. In theory, the third line is going to be a tertiary scoring line once the Rangers get fully healthy and they make whatever trades at the deadline. That leaves the fourth line, whatever concoction that may be, as a shutdown line. In theory.
The thing that is a bit scary is having two shutdown lines. We’ve seen what happens when the Rangers cant score the last two games. Two lines of offense and a powerplay won’t cut it, even with Igor Shesterkin. The Rangers need three lines that can score, so that if the top six dry up, the third line can put the puck in the net. If the Rangers go two and two, then they are going the way of the Henrik Lundqvist Rangers. Close, but not good enough.
The trade deadline will show us what Drury and Gallant have in mind.