Rangers look to kids to lead charge in battle against John Tavares and Maple Leafs

Rangers agree to extension with Filip Chytil
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
AP Photos

The New York Rangers have seen plenty of John Tavares over the years. The former captain of the New York Islanders tormented the Blueshirts for the better part of nine seasons. 

Yet now fully entrenched in his home in Toronto, the Rangers get to see their old rival again with much more on the line. 

New York is riding high on a four-game winning streak. Even more impressive have been the teams that the Rangers have gone through to get to this point. After struggling with the Chicago and Ottawa’s of the world, New York has beaten Vegas, Colorado, and New Jersey on this recent run. 

A big reason for their run has been the success of their young “kids.”

Looking at the numbers, it’s hard to see how each individual young player has impacted the Rangers’ season by much. The roster is still led by Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, and Adam Fox. In fact, the top five scorers for New York are all seasoned veterans. 

Yet the team’s recent success has come from the kids in key moments. In New York’s 4-3 overtime win over the Devils on Monday, Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, and K’Andre Miller all tallied the game-tying goal late in the second period just seven seconds after a powerplay goal.

The average player on the ice for that tying goal was just 21 years old. It’s incredible to think about, but even more of an understanding of the Rangers’ season. 

The team goes as the kids go. And it’s not just the former kid line in Lafreniere, Chytil, and Kakko either. Braden Schneider has led all defensemen in goals scored since November 22nd. K’Andre Miller is also moving the puck far more effectively when working with his fellow first-round counterpart.  

While New York has celebrated their recent four-game winning streak against some of the league’s best, and rightfully so, they aren’t out of the woods yet. Toronto has won nine straight games and trails Boston by just three points for the best record in hockey. 

Stars like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and Tavares are a difficult matchup for any good team in the NHL. And while the Rangers certainly believe their stars can match up with anyone, the ability of the kids to take that next step and produce will go a long way to determining which winning streak will continue on Thursday. 

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