Another day, another frustrating game that should have easily been a two point night for the NY Rangers. You hate to watch leads slip away from careless play and worse decisions, especially late in the third period. Gerard Gallant’s in-game decisions may have cost the Rangers by simply not playing the hot hand, and once again sticking to his stubborn line rotation. .

The first glaring coaching mistake is that Gallant had to have Vincent Trocheck’s line out after Mika Zibanejad’s, despite it being clear the line was not having a good game. The kids were dominating, scored both goals, but were not trusted late to do their thing. Second, tactically, the Rangers went into a shell in the late stages of the 3rd period, which never works.

Naturally the Leafs would go on and tie the game because the Rangers, who are not a good overtime team, lost in the first minute of OT.  Mitch Marner simply walked both Arteim Panarin and K’Andre Miller as he scored a beauty against Igor Shesterkin for the winner. Just an ugly 12 minutes that cost the Rangers the game

Filip Chytil scored twice in the second period, scoring off the face off for his first, and finishing just a beautiful shift for his second. The entire Kid Line looked great, with all 3 of them getting a point on the second goal.

Securing consistent secondary scoring from this trio is vital for any sustained playoff run, much like they did last year. And don’t look now, but Alexis Lafrenière–after many a disappointing night this season–is on a 3 game point streak himself. I truly hope reuniting this trio is what it takes for him to succeed in this organization.

What made the loss and usage aggravating was how little Gallant used this line in the third period when they were going into the shell. Kakko and Chytil especially have earned the ability to try and defend leads with their three zone play, and to ignore them for the grizzled vets that had bad games is bad coaching.

The fourth line’s role needs to be mentioned as well. Since the Jake Leschyshyn acquisition, the fourth line has been comprised of spare parts. Will Cuylle had been playing well in Hartford, and his NHL debut is on a misfit toys line with Julien Gauthier and Leschyshyn. This trio got just 5:49 of ice time. To make things worse, the Leafs scored on this line’s first shift.

If the Rangers are going to be legit Stanley Cup contenders, something has to be done with the makeup and role of the 4th line. The personnel the Rangers have is good enough, but they are not deployed well. Time and time again we see that players like Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey are far better suited for bottom six roles, yet play in the top six for some reason. Simply putting them in positions to succeed, thus moving guys like Cuylle and Vitali Kravtsov up in the lineup, is the path of least resistance.

That said, the OT winner was an execution fail for the Rangers. Getting caught flat-footed  and allowing this much open ice in tight is poor defense. Not much Shesterkin could have done on here either. The Rangers choked this game away, albeit to a better team. This is another example of the Rangers letting points slip away late.

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