Maybe the arrival of some new blood might freshen things, but the problems with the Rangers 3-5-1 getaway that has included six losses in the past seven games are bigger than what two young players can solve on their own.
Chytil does have the best chance to make an impact, as the 20-year-old center has been terrific for the Wolf Pack since he didn’t make the varsity squad out of training camp. The No. 21-overall pick from 2017 didn’t pout at the demotion, but instead put up three goals and nine points in nine games.
Now he returns to Broadway, where he played 75 games last season and where he hopes to finally stick as the center behind Mika Zibanejad, whose availability for the game was still in question after suffering an upper-body injury during Sunday’s ugly 7-4 loss to the Bruins. And it’s not just the points from Chytil that impressed the organization and got him recalled.
“You can go down there and get your points,” coach David Quinn said after a very vocal practice on Monday in Tarrytown. “If you look at the leading scorers in the American Hockey League over the last five or six years, you see a lot of the same names. Going down there and getting points doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have a chance to get here and have success.
“So one of the things we like about what Fil has done, he’s gone down there and been productive offensively, but he’s also done the things that he needs to do to have success at this level.”
Quinn has been adamant about needing more consistent effort from his team, sternly criticizing Sunday’s performance that was mostly noncompetitive. He said that a lot of his players have been lacking the edge needed to compete in the NHL, instead trying to play a game that is all skill.
“I think part of our problem is we have a lot of [skill] guys [and] that’s how they identify themselves,” Quinn said. “One thing we have to do is make sure they understand that it’s great to have that skill set, but you’ve got to have a grit element and a battle element to your game if you’re going to be successful here.”
That grit and battle is something intrinsic to Lindgren’s game, with the hard-edge defenseman playing just five games with the Rangers last season. It was his first full year as a pro, the second-round pick (No. 49 overall) having come into the Rangers organization as part of the 2017 trade that sent Rick Nash to the Bruins.
There is no obvious player who would come out of the lineup on Tuesday to make room for Lindgren, but this is the end of the Rangers’ five-game homestand, with Saturday’s game in Nashville starting a stretch of four games in six nights.
Fact is that whatever gets the Rangers playing with more desire will be welcomed.
“One of the things we tend to do is we don’t play in the moment,” Quinn said. “We don’t play the play in front of us. We play the ‘what-if’ game. You do that against teams like Boston and Tampa, you’re really going to suffer.”
The question that remains for the Rangers is whether this is just a slow start for a very young team trying to learn, or is this who they’re going to be this year? The calendar hasn’t even reached Halloween, and the Rangers are trying not to let this hole get any deeper.
“I know the makeup of our team right now, I know guys have been trying to establish themselves in the league, learning how to play in the league, and it’s our job to help them establish themselves here and get better daily,” Quinn said. “Coaching, at times, can be frustrating, regardless of when you’re winning or losing. But we have guys we believe in and we’re going to continue to work with them.”
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