Gerard Gallant’s tweaks are effective in triggering the Rangers’ offense

Head coach Gerard Gallant messed up his attacking lines to unleash an offense after the Rangers were out in Game 2, and it paid off as the team clinched a 3-1 win over the Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon to cut Carolina’s second-round streak resulted in just one game.

The changes dissolved the kid line of Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko, which had been Rangers’ most consistent unit throughout the postseason.

“To be honest, I jumped back and forth with it,” Gallant said after the win. “I just wanted to come [Andrew Copp] in the middle, you know, stronger faceoff type in the point. He’s done pretty well but we still have a lot of trouble at the faceoff tonight. But that was the initial thought, and after that I wanted to go back to my lines.”

Placing Chytil on the right wing of the top row alongside Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad, Frank Vatrano flanked the third unit with Kakko and Copp in the middle. Lafreniere jumped to the right wing of the second row alongside Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome. The fourth line of Motte, Kevin Rooney and Ryan Reaves remained intact.

Andrew Copp takes a faceoff in Rangers' Game 3 win over Hurricanes.
Andrew Copp takes a faceoff in Rangers’ Game 3 win over Hurricanes.
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The redesigned topline was particularly effective, although Chytil, Kreider, and Zibanejad only spent 2:06 ice time together during the regular season, according to the Natural Stat trick. They doubled Hurricanes shots, 10-5, in 6:55 combined in the win – and Chytil looked even more energetic with a top-six detection than he’s been lately.

“I didn’t mind,” said Chytil, who finished with four shots on target. “Kreids and Mika are top players in our team and it was good to be prepared to play with them. I had a lot of great chances, we had a line, we had a lot of good chances. We scored a goal, there was a penalty against and then we scored a goal on the power play.

“I think the first two periods were great. We played properly and that was a good experience for me.”

But Gallant returned to the combinations Rangers had for the previous four games at the end of the second period and throughout the third period, which he believed was for defensive purposes. The kid line was reunited while Vatrano rejoined the top line alongside Kreider and Zibanejad. Copp returned to the right wing of the second row with Panarin and Strome.

Gerald Galant
Gerald Galant
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Still, the Kreider-Zibanejad-Chytil Gallant alignment showed something in the win.

“I liked that line to be honest,” he said. “There were just some of the other things that were going on, so I changed it back. But I thought Fil did a good job up there with that line. He controlled the puck deep and they made some good plays and had some good chances.”

Kreider added playing on his line with Chytil: “It was different. I don’t think we’ve necessarily ever played with that line combination. But I thought he did a great job. I mean it was a 20 man effort tonight. A few minor changes at the beginning but the guys responded positively and it just worked.” Gerard Gallant’s tweaks are effective in triggering the Rangers’ offense


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