It was a moment of youthful exuberance and Stanley Cup playoffs euphoria.
The elimination of the opponent in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden. Pittsburgh PenguinsThe New York RangersThe trio were organizing a rally. They were staging a rally, as they did for most of the first-round series. Alexis Lafrenière21-year-old right wing Kaapo Kakko– and a 22-year-old center Filip Chytil— Acted as an accelerant to transform a spark of momentum in an offensive explosion.
It began with a pass attempt from Kakko from behind the Penguins' net to Lafrenière, as Pittsburgh defenders closed in.
“You can always attempt. So I tried,” Kakko said.
“He found me with that backhand sauce,” Lafrenière said.
Lafrenière's one-timer goal tied the game late in the second period, and the Rangers would eventually win en route to a stunning seven-game series victory. As the goal horn blared, Lafrenière spun away from the crease, punched the air and screamed as he raised his arms to a frenzied crowd that was already out of their seats.
“His emotion during the game, it carried on. It was special because of the home crowd,” Gerard Gallant, Rangers coach, said smiling. “They should do it again next time.”
The Rangers' playoff run has seen the Kid Line make things happen in most of the games, even if it wasn't on the scoreboard, but in setting the tone and setting the tone for the veteran players.
“We have a lot of fun. Every shift is important. That's what makes it so much fun,” Lafrenière said.
In eight games, their line has been plus-14 for shot attempts and plus-3 for scoring chances. They have surrendered five more goals than they have scored, but they have been able to score at critical moments. Look no further than Game 1 against the. Carolina HurricanesChytil, which stood until Sebastian AhoWith 2:23 remaining in regulation,'s tie goal.
Filip Chytil’s goal helped the Rangers take an early lead over Hurricanes.
“They've played really good hockey. Gallant stated that young men should come in here.
Steve Valiquette from the Rangers says their inexperience has paid off.
Valiquette, a MSG Network host, said that there are three “E's” in every player’s career. I think that there are many players in the excitement phase right now in that locker room. They're too naïve to know how big the moments are. They just have a lot of enthusiasm.
This enthusiasm is not just because it's helping the Rangers reach their deepest playoff run ever since 2017. This is because each of them are experiencing sustained, significant success in their NHL careers.
Valiquette said, “Flat truth, they all required this.” “Not one of them got a great career. But now you can see Lafrenière. Kakko can be seen. You can see Chytil on the move. This was a crucial moment for all three of them. They should be thrilled with their role.”
A “kid-line” is an old trope.
The Toronto Maple LeafsHad one in the 1930s, with Hall of Famers Charlie Conacher and “Busher Jackson” Jackson. There were many teams, including the Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Ottawa SenatorsAnd Tampa Bay LightningThey've all had them, in the case the Oilers, in each of their last three decades they had different ones.
After having been committed to a youth organization since 2018, it was only natural for the Rangers to end up with one.
Chytil was the Rangers' first “kid”. He was a Czech center and was drafted No. He was drafted 21st overall in 2017 NHL Draft, between two highly productive current pros. St. Louis Bluescenter Robert Thomas(20th) and Oilers Winger Kailer Yamamoto (22nd).
Chytil was a rookie for the Rangers during the 2017-18 season. He registered three points in nine games. They dealt with his maturation well. Chytil was originally expected to begin on the main roster in 2019-20. Instead, he began the season in Hartford of AHL. New York called him up at end of October Mika Zibanejadwas injured and stuck him between Chris KreiderAnd Pavel BuchnevichHe did well. The return of Zibanejad meant that Chytil was moved to the bottom six, which impacted his production. However, Chytil was able to demonstrate some proof of concept. He continued to make positive progress as an NHL level center.
Kakko and Lafrenière both ended up on Broadway thanks to draft lottery wins. Rangers moved from No.6 to No.1 in 2019, and were ranked at the top of the list. 2 overall, just behind the New Jersey DevilsWho selected? Jack Hughes. Kakko was the clear choice second in the draft as a large-bodied, scoring winger hailing from Finland.
Kakko is the most hated of the three children as an NHL player. Kakko has scored 26 goals and contributed 32 assists to 157 games. He missed 43 games due to injury this season. Kakko's creativity was thwarted by David Quinn, the former Rangers coach. Many began to speculate about Kakko's fate after three seasons.
Lafrenière, a native of Saint-Eustache, Quebec, ended up with the Rangers after they won the unique 2020 draft lottery.
Remember that the lottery was drawn twice during the pandemic-shorted year. The first draw was open to all teams not participating in the 24-team bubble postseason tournament, which included the Rangers as a participant. Eight “placeholder teams” were included in the draw, representing franchises that did not finish among the top eight in each conference. However, they were invited to the postseason qualifying round. One of those “placeholders,” won the first lottery drawing. The second draw was for teams that had lost in the qualification round. This included the Rangers, who lost three games to the Hurricanes.
The Rangers won that second lottery and the right to select Lafrenière.
His first season in NHL was uneventful. He had 12 goals and 9 assists over 56 games. That ranked him thirteenth among rookie scorers. This season started out equally benign, as Lafrenière had 12 points in his first 42 games. Lafreniere lit up in the final 21 games, scoring 13 points to finish the season on a high note.
Lafrenière bounced around the lineup this season, but eventually found a linemate in Chytil. They skated with such stars as Julien Gauthier, Barclay GoodrowAnd Sammy Blais. The 2021-22 regular season saw the Kid Line play only 28:13 in concert.
It is interesting to note that the trio was actually reunited, rather than being united. Quinn skated the Kid Line to a score of minus-8 in shot attempts last season, and a goal percentage of 45.18.
Chytil stated that “We began to play together last year.” “This season, we didn’t see much together on ice. But, I believe we developed chemistry through every game.
“It could be better. It's not always perfect. We're trying our best. We are aware of our role, which is to be energetic. Although we're talented, it is important that we also work hard. We can bring more than that to the playoffs. Push it forward.”
Valiquette didn't know if The Kid Line was going to be around in the playoffs. If Barclay Goodrow had been healthy, Valiquette could have imagined that Stanley Cup-winning center in between Lafrenière and Kakko instead of Chytil.
He admitted that he didn't believe they would keep them together. “Lo and behold! They were the best line for most if the [Penguins] series. They made plays when the team needed it. They brought it when the games were not flat.
They're skating to a 49.14 percentage expected goals rate through eight games of the postseason.
They were the Rangers' best line in Game 1 against Hurricanes: plus-11 in shot attempts, plus-8 scoring chances, and the source of New York’s offensive flow as Carolina's. Jordan Staal-led checking line held Zibanejad & Co. scoreless.
“They were extraordinary. Gallant stated that they were outstanding. They scored the goal and had four to five more great chances. It would have been fantastic if they had another.
Functionally, what makes the line work?
“Our forecheck has been very good. We make plays on the rush, but if there isn't, we place pucks in good places for us. Just trying to shoot the puck a little more too,” Lafrenière said.
Valiquette regards the forecheck to be the key to the Kid Line.
“They're tough on the forecheck, men. Lafrenière is hitting, Chytil is hitting. Kaapo was excellent at protecting the puck — there were times when he looked like a Penguins player. Peter Forsberg“Out there, the manner he was housing puck,” he stated. These guys are a bunch of swagger.”
Rangers fans aren't stuck in a “Stanley Cup or bust” situation. Their window of opportunity to win is longer than this postseason. Stars like Zibanejad or Chris Kreider are still in their prime. Artemi PanarinOther young foundational players in the Vezina Trophy favourite at 26 years old Igor Shesterkin, 23-year-old Adam FoxHe was 22 years old and won the Norris Trophy. K'Andre Miller; and, naturally, The Kid Line.
“We are young men, so we just want to play hockey. Chytil stated that you should do the right thing.
Have some fun.
Kakko stated, “It is the playoffs.” “Of course, we're having a lot of fun.”