The long awaited return of Filip Chytil caught many off guard for Game 3, as there was still no indication he would return to the lineup. Filip Chytil’s return became a reality when he took warmups and was officially in the lineup before puck drop. Playing LW (note: not RW) on the third line with Alex Wennberg and Kaapo Kakko, Chytil was thrust back into the lineup at the perfect time.

Aside: Thank you all for the patience over the past week. I was on vacation (poorly timed, I know), and did the best I could with timely content. Didn’t have the opportunity to edit a few things in real time, and I missed the Game 2 lineup/Rempe scratched. But I did not miss Filip Chytil’s return (I watched on my phone), which was nice.

1. Chytil’s return started slowly as the kid started a bit rusty, but got better as the game went along. On a line with Wennberg and Kakko, Chytil was tasked more with a shutdown role than a scoring role, a role he is perfectly capable of performing. Peter Laviolette knew what he was doing by putting him back in the lineup, and eventually Chytil was comfortable enough to dangle around the Carolina defense for a good scoring chance.

2. Chytil is very clearly a center, but putting him at LW–not the off-wing– helped ease him into a defensive role a bit easier than jumping right into 3C in a scoring role. I still believe that Chytil’s spot in the lineup is at 3C in a scoring role, but against Carolina this also makes sense. Just not my preference. But I’m not the coach. I’m Jon Snow. I know nothing.

3. Without last change, Laviolette couldn’t get the Wennberg line out against the stronger opposition, so there were no real matchups to exploit. It does look like Rod Brind’Amour wanted to keep Sebastian Aho’s line away from this trio, as there were only a few shifts where they were on the ice at the same time. There were no specific zone start preferences either, with the line getting close to equal zone starts across the board.

4. When Chytil was out there, the Rangers did not allow a goal and only surrendered 1 high danger chance while generating two of their own (per NST). They did their job, with Chytil getting 12:01 total ice time in the OT win. Chytil was solid in his return as Laviolette will look to get him more ice time.

It will be interesting to see how Laviolette deploys Chytil and the bottom six tonight as the Rangers face a desoerate Carolina Hurricanes team that won’t go quietly. Remember, the Hurricanes are fully capable of rattling off four wins in a row, even against a well coached Rangers team.

5. I think reinserting Chytil into the lineup gave the Rangers far more roster flexibility with matchups and balancing ice time. We love Matt Rempe here, but with him getting Stu Bickeled in Game 2, getting just 7 min TOI and not playing in the third period or either overtime, it was time for a change. Even without the refs targeting him, it was clear the Hurricanes were. Sometimes, it’s about the right roster.

Also, there is zero justification for keeping Rempe in over Chytil. Chytil is objectively the better player and again provides far more roster balance. He’s also the better skater and puck handler, and that’s needed against a Carolina team that is relentless on the forecheck.

6. Chytil’s return will only become more and more valuable as the Rangers continue to advance (hopefully), as Florida–their expected next opponent should the Rangers close out this series– is also a great offensive team that can overwhelm opponents. Chytil simply provides more roster balance.

7. The only downside thus far is having Will Cuylle on the fourth line. That’s likely temporary, if just for these playoffs. Cuylle with Jimmy Vesey and Barclay Goodrow still keeps that physical element while adding a bit more reliability and fewer penalties. The lineup is simply better with Chytil in it, even if Cuylle winds up a bit out of his element and role on the fourth line.

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