Gerard Gallant’s line mix creates a winning Rangers formula

With his team in need of a change midway through a rough second period Monday night, Gerard Gallant put his two lines in a blender and came up with a winning formula.

Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko joined Mika Zibanejad on the top line, who were on the ice for two of the Rangers’ three third-period goals, including one from Lafreniere. A 6-4 win over the Blues at the Garden.

“After the second one [period]”I didn’t like what I saw,” Gallant said. “I didn’t like what I saw in the middle of the second round and I wanted to spark something again. Two children [Lafreniere and Kakko] Deserved some chances and thought they played very well.

“For me, it made the three lines better. I hope they keep it, but we’ll see.

Gallant has confused his lines as Rangers try to find the right recipe for success in their latest skid, but Monday’s changes have helped. The second and fourth lines remained unchanged, while the third line was Chris Kreider, Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey.

Alexis Lafreniere #13 of the New York Rangers celebrates with his teammates.
New York Rangers’ Alexis Lafreniere (l.) celebrates with teammates.
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Blackhawks center Andreas Athanasiou was upset with Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba Saturday night after an open-ice hit on him.

“This guy is known for his high shot, he doesn’t care about the puck on the floor and almost tries to hurt people,” Afanasiou This was reported by the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s his game; he does so. He’s an 8 million dollar man with no goals, so he has to figure out what to do with all that money. “If you can’t help the team, I think you try to hurt guys on the other team.”

Rangers outfielder Ryan Lindgren, who released Afanasiou’s comment on Monday, called it “absurd.”

“The guy is going down the middle of the ice with his head down and Troubs has a very clean, legitimate shot,” Lindgren said. – Yes, I don’t know what he meant by that. But that’s just part of the game. Big hits are part of the game. Especially with Troubs in there, if you put your head down, he’ll make you pay.

Filip Chytil missed Monday’s second straight game with a lower back injury that Gallant described as still “day-to-day.” Johnny Brodzinski was recalled from AHL Hartford and made his season debut, centering on the fourth line between Sammy Blais and Julien Gauthier.

Gallant said he expected Chytil to join the Rangers on a two-game road trip to Las Vegas and Colorado that begins Wednesday.

Igor Shesterkin made 25 saves and improved to 11-4-4 on the year. … Trouba and K’Andre Miller teamed up on the Rangers’ second defensive pairing after Miller went with Braden Schneider the previous three games.

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