As the New York Rangers prepare for the fight of their life tonight, looking back upon these past four games show the true potential in this franchise going forward. No matter what happens after the final horn tonight, the “Kids” will be alright.
Who are the “Kids”? Well, of course, it is the younger guys on this team—Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko, and Filip Chytil at the front and K’Andre Miller on the back-end. Of course, you can also throw 23-year-olds Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren on there as well. These six, in their early 20s, have been great in their first taste of postseason hockey.
The “Kid” line of Lafreniere, Chytil, and Kakko has been magical in this postseason. Seemingly, they have been the most productive line on this roster. Whenever a spark was needed, these Playoff rookies were always the ones lighting the match. Sure, it doesn’t reflect on the scoresheet, as the trio has only mustered two goals and two assists combined. They are still adjusting to the postseason game.
And to add to that, the experienced guys who are supposed to be the leaders of this forward group have not been living up to their expectations. The top 6, outside of game 2, have been lackluster and uncoordinated. With a 52-goal scorer in Chris Kreider manning the top-line, as well as a 95-point achiever in Artemi Panarin on the second line, there should be no reason why the top two lines should be struggling to put pressure on a third-string goaltender in Louis Domingue. Of course, all respect where it is due for the Pittsburgh goaltender, who has undoubtedly won over the hearts of Pittsburgh and, frankly, hockey fans everywhere.
The third line consisting of the “kids,” has continuously put pressure on Domingue. Even against the top lines of Pittsburgh, which feature Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel on the first line and Evgeni Malkin on the second.
The “Kids” On Defense
Alongside the three forwards, there are also a couple of early risers on the defensive end of this roster. Fox, Lindgren, and Miller have each shown their true potential in not only the 82-game regular season but the four games of this first-round matchup against Pittsburgh. Of course, we have only seen Lindgren in one game of this series, but his absence has certainly been missed. Who knows just how well he would have been in games 2 through 4.
For Fox, the reigning Norris Trophy winner has been superb. He continues to prove that his the number one defenseman on this team and will likely be for the duration of his time in New York. We can only hope that is for the rest of his career. With a pair of goals and a pair of assists in the four games, he also leads all skaters with 117 minutes of time on the ice. Since game 2, Fox has lost his usual left-sided partner in Lindgren and has been paired up with Justin Braun.
Right behind Fox is Miller. He sits second on this team in time on ice with 110 minutes in this series thus far and has recorded two assists. He has fit in well with his first round of playoff pressure, and the sky is the limit for him. The tandem of Miller and his partner, Jacob Trouba, has been quite solid, especially in their first three games of this series.
The Future Is Bright
The Rangers are in a 3-1 hole against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It is time for game five later tonight, and this entire season is on the line. No matter the outcome, it is important to understand the strides that the Rangers took this season. After obtaining the number one overall pick just two short years ago, and the “letter” that shook up the organization and its fans, to a 52-win team that was a home favorite in the playoffs.
The formula is working, even if it didn’t produce the result that everyone wanted this season. Many expected the Rangers to steamroll the Penguins in this series, but it is playoff hockey, and these six players will use this experience as a big step in their careers. The future is bright for these “kids.”