Rangers Need Chytil & Goodrow to Step up With Kakko Out

The New York Rangers have had a very impressive first half of the season, and they recently got a boost as Adam Fox and Filip Chytil both returned from injuries. However, talented winger Kaapo Kakko, who has already missed a few weeks, will be out for at least another month. Without Kakko in the lineup, the Blueshirts struggled in their last few games before the All-Star break. They need players to step up in his absence, and two key players who can do that are Chytil and Barclay Goodrow.

Filip Chytil

Although Chytil had an encouraging 2020-21 season, he continued to struggle with consistency. While he has always scored in streaks, he has yet to get on one of those streaks this season, and has just five goals and seven assists in 39 games. He had shown signs of breaking through offensively before suffering an upper-body injury which forced him to miss the Rangers’ final five games before the All-Star break.

Chytil has spent the majority of this season as New York’s third-line center, but the whole line has struggled to produce offensively. Additionally, he has won just 42.2 percent of his face offs and Gerard Gallant, New York’s head coach, briefly decided to use him as a winger before his injury.

Filip Chytil New York Rangers
The Rangers need Filip Chytil to step up with Kaapo Kakko injured (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While playing on a line with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome, Chytil had his best stretch of play this season. He had a four-game point streak (one goal and three assists) during January and he showed flashes of his potential.

Related: Rangers Would Take Big Risk in Replacing Strome With Chytil

At times this season, and throughout his career, Chytil has looked like he could be a top-six forward, but he has yet to prove he can play at that level consistently. Given that he has talent, but has struggled at center, he may get a chance to play right wing with Strome and Panarin again. Either way, the Rangers need him to start producing offensively.

Chytil is a decent skater who has gotten stronger on the puck, and has quick hands. He’s scored a few highlight-reel goals, but the Rangers need him to stay engaged and go to the front of the net to score more consistently. In New York’s 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, he scored on his own rebound to tie the game at one apiece in the third period.

Barclay Goodrow

Another key forward for the Blueshirts with Kakko out of the lineup is Goodrow. New York signed him to a six-year, $21.85 million contract, and so far the signing has paid off. He has become a key penalty-killer, played well on the fourth line, and also played well when given the opportunity to be a top-six forward. He has already reached a career-high in goals this season with 10 and he also has 10 assists.

Goodrow may get an opportunity to be a top-six forward for the Rangers once again with Kakko out. He got off to a rough start in the Blueshirts’ first game since the break, as a sloppy giveaway led to a Bruins goal. However, he could still be a good fit on a line with Panarin and Strome, as he is usually very responsible defensively and has shown he can also chip in offensively.

The Rangers have struggled to create scoring chances at even strength, but nine of Goodrow’s goals have come at even strength (he has one shorthanded goal too.) He can also contribute on the power play if the Rangers decide to use him on their second unit. He has scored a few goals on deflections and he is certainly willing to go to the front of the net.

Barclay Goodrow, New York Rangers
Barclay Goodrow has played well in his first season with the New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Though Kakko hasn’t produced much offensively this season, he has proven to be an important penalty killer, and the Rangers will need their other penalty killers to step up with him out of the lineup. Goodrow has proven to be trustworthy on the penalty kill and late in games with the Blueshirts clinging to a lead. He has won 50.2 percent of faceoffs, has come up with timely blocked shots, and made responsible decisions with the puck.

Special teams have been key to the Rangers’ success thus far this season and they will need that trend to continue. The Blueshirts will rely on Goodrow to continue his strong shorthanded play and he may get an opportunity to contribute on the power play too.

For the Rangers Moving Forward

The Blueshirts definitely miss Kakko, but his injury has created opportunities for other forwards like Chytil and Goodrow. Chytil has yet to play to his potential but has the talent to contribute much more offensively than he has so far this season. On the contrary, Goodrow has been very good defensively and is in the midst of a career season offensively. The Blueshirts will need him to continue his strong play at both ends of the ice with Kakko out.

The Rangers relied heavily on stars Igor Shesterkin, Adam Fox, and Chris Kreider in the first half of the season but they will certainly need role players to play well down the stretch. Chytil and Goodrow are two important role players the Rangers must count on, especially with Kakko out of the lineup.

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