Today wasn’t a good day for the Rangers. After defeating the Penguins 3-0 with a great team effort, they got some bad news. The injury bug has hit with 10 games left in the regular season.
During Thursday night’s game, key checking forward and penalty killer Tyler Motte absorbed a tough hit from Pittsburgh forward Anthony Angello. In a prone position, the former Canuck was caught up high on a hit from the side that knocked him down. He would exit the contest.
Unfortunately, it appears that the injury to Motte is serious. Coach Gerard Gallant provided an update to reporters. Terming it a significant upper body injury, it’ll keep Motte out the remainder of the schedule.
It doesn’t sound promising. What that could signal is that Motte won’t be available for the first round of the playoffs. While I don’t know the full extent of the injury, my guess is he suffered a shoulder separation. Depending on what Grade it is will determine how long he’s out for.
What a bummer. Acquired from Vancouver for a fourth round pick, the 27-year old Motte has been a good addition to the fourth line. Also a valuable penalty killer, his combination of speed and instincts make him a player who’s fit in well.
Motte is always willing to finish checks and sacrifice for the good of the team. In nine games, he recorded 27 hits and blocked seven shots. While he didn’t register any points, Motte created scoring opportunities off his hard work. He totaled 18 shots on goal.
That gritty style made him a trusted player under Gallant. Motte was averaging 12:33 of ice time per game. Now, it’ll be up to their depth players to offset the loss.
It could fall on Kevin Rooney and Jonny Brodzinski. Rooney is close to returning. He is also a solid checking player that kills penalties. Brodzinski plays the game hard and utilizes his speed to make things happen. A center who is over .500 on face-offs, he can play a supporting role and penalty kill.
Another player who is hurt is Filip Chytil. The 22-year old center had been playing better. He was more noticeable during shifts while centering Alexis Lafreniere and glue guy Barclay Goodrow.
Although it’s been a disappointing season for him, Chytil looks to have locked up a third line supporting role. He’s been using his speed and playing more of a straight ahead game to generate chances.
The latest injury is unfortunate. This is a player who’s had setbacks. Friend of the blog Sean McCaffrey refers to him as Filip Brittle. As much as I hate to say it, that’s a fair assessment of Chytil at this point of his career. He’s never played a full season yet. Not even in the Covid shortened ’19-20 or last year’s abbreviated 56-game schedule.
So far in Year Five, he has seven goals and 12 assists for a total of 19 points over 60 games. A disappointing number considering his capability. Eighteen of the 19 points have come at even strength. Even if you aren’t the biggest Chytil fan, it hurts to lose him. Hopefully, he won’t be out that long.
Without Chytil, Goodrow practiced as the center of the third line between Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko. Yes. It looks likely that we could finally see Kakko return to action tomorrow versus Ottawa. He hasn’t played since Jan. 21 at Carolina.
If Kakko does play on Saturday, it’ll be interesting to see how he looks. We know the ugly statistics. Five goals and nine assists in 37 games. But this is a chance for a new season. We’ll see what he brings.
Rooney also practiced today. As Vince Mercogliano noted above. He was back on the fourth line between Dryden Hunt and Ryan Reaves. The extra line had Brodzinski with Greg McKegg and Julien Gauthier.
If we assume those are the third and fourth lines for the Senator game, then you know the rest. I’m not even going to spell it out.
One thing I forgot to mention in last night’s blog is that Gallant went back to Patrik Nemeth with Braden Schneider. I didn’t have a problem with it. Too many of our fans are fickle. Nemeth didn’t make one mistake. Let Turk do his job. He will continue to assess both Nemeth and Justin Braun. Schneider looks like he’ll be penciled in for Game One next month.
If the Hurricanes defeat the Islanders in regulation tonight, the Rangers officially clinch. That would be appropriate. Since I don’t care who they’ll play, Let’s Go Canes. For one night only.
That’s gonna do it for now. This team should have enough depth to be okay without Motte. I hope we get to see him again in a Blueshirt this season. That would mean big time games this Spring.