The news is not good on Filip Chytil. He’s expected to miss four to six weeks with an upper body injury. It happened when he collided with Evan Rodriguez on Sunday.
Now, the Rangers face some adversity. Off to a slow start having lost four of their first five, it becomes all about the veterans who must pick it up. They face the Sabres tonight in Buffalo where they’ll be for two games.
Mika Zibanejad knows he has to be better. He’s sitting on one goal and an assist in five games. It’s time for the top center to elevate his game along with Chris Kreider, who’s been all but invisible with just the one power play goal against the Devils. They need much more consistency from both. Restoring Pavel Buchnevich on the line should be the way to go.
David Quinn has yet to find the right combination for Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome. While Panarin has six points (2-4-6), he hasn’t been as effective at five-on-five. There have been too many passes into the middle that get intercepted. Four of his six points are on the power play. Strome picked up his first goal the other day on a rebound set up by Panarin. He’s looked better the last two games.
They still need someone to complement the line. Jesper Fast is missed. It’s up to Quinn to figure it out. Maybe it’s Phil Di Giuseppe. He has four assists all at even strength. He plays on the third line with Kaapo Kakko and the injured Chytil, who was off to a good start with two goals and an assist. Di Giuseppe can play either side. If not, maybe it’s time to see if Kakko is up to the challenge. He has two goals and has looked more engaged. Certainly, it would be a great opportunity to play with Panarin and Strome.
Brett Howden will move up to center the third line. Is it with Kakko or Di Giuseppe? What about Alexis Lafreniere? The lineup is more complicated without Chytil due to the lack of center depth. Kevin Rooney can center the fourth line. But there isn’t the same balance when you subtract Chytil.
It will be interesting to see what the Rangers do. They need to start winning games. It’ll have to be without Chytil.