Filip Chytil recorded two goals this weekend for the Hartford Wolf Pack, but the New York Rangers must remain patient when considering a recall.
Head coach David Quinn and his coaching staff believed he would get more experience on face-offs and power-play opportunities in the AHL, as opposed to experiencing fewer minutes from the bench in New York.
Quinn stressed patience with the young player, an idea that has Rangers fans unhappy after just three games played. The Blueshirts 2-1 record has been overshadowed by a slow start from just about all of the forwards with the exception of Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich, otherwise known as the No. 1 line.
The Pressing Problem On The Second Line
A more thorough look at the line combination concludes the second line of Chris Kreider, Ryan Strome and Kaapo Kakko needs to be better. The root of this situation lies in the center position. Strome has struggled while centering the second line. It’s more like the past six games if you include the preseason.
Strome has managed a single assist this season, a helper on Kakko’s first goal of the season. His linemates have struggled as well, and though all cannot be blamed on No. 16, he hasn’t found a way to get his linemates going.
Strome took the second line center position in the latter part of the training camp as Chytil had difficulties in several different areas. It was thought that Strome would be able to give the line some consistency, along with an offensive punch to provide the team with a strong second unit behind the team’s top trio.
Strome tallied 18 goals last season with the Rangers. He displayed a take-charge attitude that made him a valuable asset once he was acquired by the team in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers (for Ryan Spooner) in November of last year.
To be fair, it’s hard to judge a team or a line combination with just three games played. Worse yet,it’s tough to judge a team that’s had a seven-day break between the second and third game of the season. Achieving consistency is only possible by playing games. Three contests over the first 17 days of the season make it nearly impossible.
Of course, excuses are not going to cut it in New York City. The team showed in its 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers in Saturday’s matinee game that one strong line won’t carry the team. Strome’s struggles have begun to be recognized by the coaching staff as was evident when Brett Howden replaced Strome for several shifts.
Is just three games enough time to exclusively judge the performance of a line? The second-year coach appears to have addressed the controversy on Saturday, but will this be the solution come their next game?
Chytil Needs To Stay In Hartford
Chytil has enjoyed a great start with the Hartford Wolf Pack. The team is off to a 3-0-1 record. The center has scored in the team’s last two games and has recorded five points, good for 1.25 points per game. He has also been very aggressive, shooting the puck often. He currently ranks second on the team with 14 shots on goal (Phil Di Giuseppe leads with 15).
His success is only based on a small sample of games. The Wolf Pack have only played in one more game than the Blueshirts.
The purpose of his assignment to the AHL was to improve in the predetermined areas the Rangers staff has laid out. There is no way this feat was achieved in just four AHL games.
The Rangers need to avoid the pressures of their problems and leave Chytil to improve on his game. If the team believed he needed AHL games in Hartford to work on his game, they can not possibly believe he has improved enough to recall him now. The more ice time he sees with Hartford, the better player he will become for the Rangers.
Eventually, he will get recalled to the team.
Chytil needs to stay with the Rangers when the time arrives that the club decides to recall him. It would be detrimental to his growth should he be called up and then sent down again. The learning curve will be destroyed if he continues to make the same mistakes again as he did in training camp.
There Is Help In New York
For the time being, the Rangers may have the answer to their second-line center woes. Twenty-one-year-old Lias Andersson seems poised to take a shot at the second line center position. He had a fantastic camp. Quinn has been using him sparingly, only averaging 8:42 of ice time, just 7.3 minutes at five-on-five.
The Rangers head coach has stated several times that he needs to find him more ice time. What better way to do that than to promote him to the second line? He is fast, strong and never shies from the hard contact that comes within a game.
He would have no trouble skating along with Kreider and Kakko. This would also keep the idea of bringing Chytil up sooner than later on the backburner.
This is a young hockey squad and the thinking of rushing Chytil up when he isn’t ready is foolish. The team needs to stay the course and use the resources they have right now that’s on the roster.
It is very hard to judge a team or an individual player after three games. The Rangers schedule will pick up in intensity beginning Thursday with the season’s first back-to-back road games in New Jersey then Washington.
Meanwhile, the Hartford Wolf Pack will play a contest at home on Saturday, the fifth-straight home game for the Pack. Chytil and his AHL teammates will then play their first road game of the year on Sunday against the Binghamton Devils.
Chytil needs to earn his opportunity to come back to the Rangers, and contrary to most opinions, there’s no need to rush the kid.
His time will come when he is ready to help the Blueshirts again.