As the Rangers continue to be starved for offense, the need for a lineup change and perhaps a fire under the Rangers has intensified. Last night against Boston, as the Rangers continued to struggle to generate chances, Vitali Kravtsov was demoted from the second line, a line that already has issues at 5v5. But given skill sets and roles, that likely wasn’t the smartest move. Perhaps it’s simple: Give Filip Chytil a shot at the 2C role.
No disrespect to Vincent Trocheck, who has been fine while having the worst shooting percentage season of his career.
Vincent Trocheck may or may not be moved to 3C (not saying he shouldn't) for #NYR soon, so I just made two quick charts.
Guy can't buy a goal at 5v5 so far this year (and, remember, any of those posts don't count as SOG's). pic.twitter.com/g5xF1ru7Ri
— Rob Luker (@RLuker12) January 20, 2023
While Trocheck is battling it a bit, that’s not necessarily the point. There was a period of time in the season where Trocheck was at his best, flanked by Chris Kreider and Jimmy Vesey. It was the Rangers version of a true shutdown line that could also produce offense. I know you’re all tired of the Anthony Cirelli line comparisons in Tampa, but that was the Rangers equivalent.
That left Chytil with Panarin, which produced track meet results with Barclay Goodrow on their line. Vitali Kravtsov is just as sound defensively, but with far more offensive talent and upside. If you assume the Kreider-Trocheck-Vesey line is the shutdown line, then perhaps you assume the Panairn-Chytil-Kravtsov line gets sheltered minutes in the offensive zone, best utilizing Panarin’s skill sets.
Aside: Yes, I know this means Alexis Lafreniere, who has not played well away from the puck, would wind up on the top line. Maybe a confidence boost happens. Maybe learn by doing happens. But what we do know is the current iteration of the second line doesn’t work, and those two middle-six lines did work.
One of the thought processes, that I don’t agree with, is that Chytil stays on the third line because of his uncertain future with the Rangers, given Trocheck’s contract. Chytil’s next contract shouldn’t impact what the Rangers are trying to do right now, which is win a Stanley Cup.
Almost every other option –with the current personnel– has been tried in some form. The only one that has shown spurts of success has been Panarin-Chytil, and now with Kravtsov, it could potentially be a fun track meet line. Chytil and Kravtsov are also good in their own end, balancing out Panarin’s weaknesses. Chytil as the 2C is worth a shot, if just for a few games, since nothing else has worked.