It took just 13 games but the New York Rangers and Gerard Gallant have seen enough.
Amidst their second three-game losing streak of the 2022-23 NHL season, the Rangers have altered their lines again in hopes of finding a winning combination. That means one of their most lethal combinations is back together again.
Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil, and Kaapo Kakko rose to national promise as the dubbed “kid line” dominated the Stanley Cup Playoffs en route to helping the Rangers reach their first Eastern Conference Finals in five seasons.
But with key free agents leaving for free agency, and depth a more significant question mark, Gallant and the coaching staff broke up the kid line to start the season in the hopes their improved play will seep across the roster.
The play from each member of the original line has improved, but the wins haven’t come.
“We want to win hockey games. I thought we played well last night but obviously, we didn’t come up with any points. The Kids played really well last year so we will give them a chance and see how it goes.” Gallant told reporters Wednesday afternoon.
The Rangers dropped a 4-3 contest to the rival Islanders Tuesday night, the latest example of high shot selections not yielding winning results. Yet the recent line change has been well received by the young kids themselves.
“I feel good about that. I remember how well we played in the playoffs together so we know what to do.” Kaapo Kakko told AMNY. “I think it’s going to be a good game for us.”
To say the kid line played well in the playoffs last season would be an understatement. The Lafreniere-Chytil-Kakko line tallied over 20 points in the playoffs for the Rangers and also showed flashes when they played together in the preseason.
The key to their success has been a combination of each player’s skillset that fits well within the group.
“I think we are good with the puck, all of us. We’re so skilled in the offensive zone so we can create chances and that’s how it goes so we try to do that.” Kakko later added.
It’s a tall order for the Rangers to ask the kid line to come together and help end a three-game losing streak, but Gallant and the coaching staff are running out of options. A road matchup against an improved Detroit Red Wings Thursday will be a major test to see if the kid line can reignite the magic that their playoff run created.
For more New York Rangers news, turn to AMNY.com