Tarrytown – The Rangers Kid Line has been a beacon of speed, strength, and dominance for the team since coming together last season.
During the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the group consisting of Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil, and Kaapo Kakko tallied 23 points while helping the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference Finals. While many were surprised by the overwhelming talent last season, there hasn’t been anyone shocked over their full season together. All three of the Rangers’ kid line put up career years during the 2022-23 NHL regular season. Chytil ended up turning his career year into a four-year contract extension. But as the start of the playoffs draws closer, and the Devils appear ready to match the line’s quickness, the group appears ready for another deep playoff run.
“They’ve gotten more experience, playing more. They aren’t kids anymore. They’re growing up – they have more games under their belt, meaningful games and I think it goes a long way,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said after Monday’s practice.
Last year’s playoff run has certainly played a part in the improved confidence and style of play that the Kid Line has produced. That confidence has led to several in the group to know they can be a matchup nightmare for a first-round opponent like New Jersey.
“I think when we work low, get our forecheck going that’s when we’re at our best. So I’ll try to keep it simple, try to play like that. When we’re down low with the puck, that’s when you can use your skills a little more,” Alexis Lafreniere told AMNY.
Lafreniere, like the rest of his line, put up a career season in New York thanks to his puck-handling ability matching well with the speed of his fellow linemates.
While New Jersey is known for their overall speed, the fact that the kids already play at a fast level shows that the group won’t be overwhelmed by its opponent.
“They’re really fast, really skilled. I think our team is too. Like I said, it should be a really good series, two really good teams, so I can’t wait to get going tomorrow. It should be a lot of fun,” Lafreniere concluded.
Kaapo Kakko echoed his linemate’s stance following Monday’s practice.
“They have some fast players so I think our line we just need to play like we’ve been playing before – like last year’s playoffs. Get the puck in the O-zone, get some chances, and those things.”
Kakko is another member of the group that has found his niche on the roster. Once thought of as an afterthought in the Rangers lineup, the former second-overall pick has found his game along with his linemates
“I think all of us like to do the same things in the o-zone – keep the puck over there and play behind the net. That’s kind of our game and I think that Fil, Me, and Laffy, all of us know how to do that and are good at that,” Kakko explained.
New York’s head coach is right about his young trio – the success they’ve had both in the regular season and the playoffs means they aren’t wide-eyed kids going into a playoff series. The understanding that Chytil, Lafreniere, and Kakko have now makes them one of the most dangerous groups entering the playoffs today.
While a nickname change isn’t likely in the near future, the Kids know they have all the tools necessary to go on another successful playoff run for their team.