Kid Line is a big silver lining for Rangers versus Hurricanes

The Kids were perhaps the best Rangers on the ice on Wednesday, a little more than okay, and yes, that was a necessity in the Blueshirts’ 2-1 overtime loss to the Hurricanes.

Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour, who made the final change in Game 1 in Raleigh, North Carolina, decided to try to eliminate the Rangers’ top line with his check line. In general, space was tight here, and the second row had a mostly nondescript night.

The Rangers Kid Line had to try to generate a large part of the offensive for the Blueshirts. At this point, however, “Kid Line” might be the wrong nickname. In these playoffs, Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko have all come of age quickly. Wednesday was the final proof.

It was the goal early in the first period, Chytil’s second goal of the postseason, followed by a game in which the trio outplayed their opponents for almost all of their time on the ice.

Filip Chytil (No.72) scores a goal during Rangers' 2-1 Game 1 overtime loss to the Hurricanes.
Filip Chytil (No.72) scores a goal during Rangers’ 2-1 Game 1 overtime loss to the Hurricanes.

“We’re just playing our game,” Chytil said. “Just move your feet.”

Lafreniere spent much of the season oscillating between the lines while Rangers tried to find the right fit for the former No. 1 overall. The same goes for Chytil, although he doesn’t share quite the same pedigree as Lafreniere. Kakko only played 43 games and missed most of the back end of the season.

In the playoffs, the top 6 Rangers should be safe. Instead, it was the third line, which had a percentage of 81.94 expected goals per natural stat trick at the end of Wednesday’s regulation, that has consistently outplayed its opponents.

There are still moments to thrive on – notably Kakko’s failure to convert on a wide-open net late in the third period – but the fact of the matter is that Rangers had the better game for most of the evening, not least thanks to their young guns.

“We only have one [goal]’ Chytil said, ‘but we can take a lot of positives into another game and build on that game.’

If you zoom out for a moment, and it’s difficult to do that in the middle of a playoff run, the future is at least a little bleak for Rangers due to their reliance on goaltender Igor Shesterkin this season. Much of this core’s future hinges on whether Shesterkin can repeat his 2021-22 season or whether Rangers can find a way to do a better job in front of him than they’ve done for most of this season.

And then there’s the question of the Kid Line – all three first round players, with Lafreniere and Kakko both being top 2 picks. For now, at least, they provide a resounding answer. Kid Line is a big silver lining for Rangers versus Hurricanes


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