TARRYTOWN — A new regime has begun inside the halls of the New York Rangers practice facility with training camp opening up. Thursday morning was the first time many of the team’s solid core were able to get on the ice and receive tutelage from new head coach Peter Laviolette’s staff.
There’s a long way to go before we see just how improved Laviolette will have the Rangers, but it’s clear that big things are coming, and changes are being made overall.
“He seems like a really good coach, a really good guy. We’re excited to have him and have a lot of success with him,” Alexis Lafreniere said of the new head coach.
Among those changes center around the young players like Lafreniere. The former first-overall pick is expected to be shifted to the right side, his off-hand to receive more playing time throughout the season. While he explicitly said that he would prefer to be on his dominant hand, Lafreniere understands that the road to get him more playing time (and in turn better production), is to be on the right.
“You have to be able to play both and for me, I feel I can be good playing right. I just have to adjust a little bit. Nothing big, just trying to get used to it,” Lafreniere added.
The Rangers need to get the most out of their young players like Lafreniere. After a few years with mediocre numbers, the Blueshirts need to get better production from this group. Other young players like Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil may be coming off career years
“He’s a good coach,” Kakko said of Laviolette. “We’ll see…I think I had a good season last year and I want to keep playing like that and get even better.”
Even with all the young and new faces on the roster, New York can be considered a veteran team now. With stars like Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin still manning key roles, the Rangers’ new coaching staff knows they need to get a buy-in from them to fully embrace the style of hockey Laviolette wants to play.
“I’m just curious to see how the neutral zone stuff works. I know we had a lot of problems with that against their team and we’re going to play something similar so it’ll be nice to be on the other end of that,” Zibanejad joked.
Laviolette’s Washington Capitals squad may not have won a playoff series in the three years he was there, but an undermanned squad split the season series with the Rangers last season in impressive fashion.
Now as the head coach of the team he’s had success against, Laviolette could have a solid plan in place to know how to get the most out of his new squad.
1st Line: Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Kaapo Kakko
2nd Line: Artemi Panarin – Vincent Trocheck – Alexis Lafreniere
3rd Line: Jimmy Vesey – Filip Chytil – Blake Wheeler
4th Line: Barclay Goodrow – Nick Bonino – Tyler Pitlick
1st Pair: Ryan Lindgren – Adam Fox
2nd Pair: K’Andre Miller – Jacob Trouba
3rd Pair: Braden Schneider – Zac Jones
- As always, this is a preliminary prediction of how the Rangers might line up when they open their season in Buffalo. Laviolette has already said he’s willing to try out different combinations to see what will work best for the organization.
- With Lafreniere and Kakko officially moving up a line, it’s a fair bet to say the Kid Line has played their last few rushes together.
- The Lindgren-Fox pairing might be broken up at times over the next few weeks but that doesn’t mean they’ll never play with each other again. Zibanejad has explained that while it’s good to try new things, having a veteran team like this means they shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken.