What went wrong for trade candidate Vitaly Kravtsov and how it created an opening for Barclay Goodrow

I think we all knew filling the top-six hole at right tackle was going to be tough after Frank Vatrano and Andrew Copp left in free agency.

Maybe Alexis Lafreniere can make a shift to the right and stick it. Maybe Kaapo Kakko can step forward. Perhaps the profligate Vitaly Kravtsov would earn his place after his commitment to summer training.

Thirty games into an uneventful season, head coach Gerard Gallant is still in the mix. Still looking for suitable personnel. Still looking for the right combinations. Linear compounds can also be written in sand.

But after some last-ditch tricks in Monday’s 4-3 win over the Devils and the Blueshirts’ 3-1 lead midway through the second period, coach Barclay It’s obvious that Gudrow feels more comfortable filling in. top six RW points.

Leaning on Gudro

New York Rangers manager Gerard Gallant looks on during the second inning against the Arizona Coyotes at Madison Square Garden, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in New York, New York.
With Gerard Gallant juggling, the Rangers are on a winning streak but still need to climb to make the playoffs.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

Goodrow, a two-time Bowl champion third-stringer in Tampa and New York’s most optimistic fourth-stringer in the middle, will add defensive awareness, sandpaper and impressive touch to the line with Filip Chytil in the middle. shdi and Artemi Panarin, left, as the unit continues.

That was two full games and part of a period in which the manager shook things up after the Devils blew a two-goal lead on Monday. After the renovation, Chitil moved in with Lafreniere and Kakko, and Panarin moved in with Mika Zibanejad … Goodrow is on the right.

The Lafreniere-Zibanejad-Kakko line, intact for more than two games, was overwhelmed in the first half against New Jersey’s Thomas Tatar-Nico Hischier-Jesper Bratt team. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Devils were 5-0 in attempts, 3-0 in shots, 5-0 in goals and 1-0 on the scoreboard with 3:36 left in the Blueshirts line. was on.

It took a while, but after the situation turned around, it seemed that Goodrow stepped into the role of the top six. Goodrow started 24 times last season, but in just 16 of the final 64 games. Of course, Dryden Hunt played a top-six role in 27 games.

Barclay Goodrow #21 of the New York Rangers gets separated from Kyle Makar #8 of the Colorado Avalanche during the third period of the game Friday, Dec. 9, 2022, at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado.
Barclay Goodreau, who fell behind early for the Devils, moved into the top six and could stay there after helping the Blueshirts to a come-from-behind win.
Getty Images

The dysfunction of the Ranger$ teams that missed the playoffs seven straight years from 1998 to 2004 while bribing subordinates to wear uniforms is almost non-existent. But using Goodrow in a top-six spot is reminiscent of the club’s use of linebacker extraordinaire Bobby Holick as a first-line pivot because he was paid too much to sign as a free agent.

Waiting for Vitaly

Goodrow will bolster the Rangers’ fourth line, but moving the No. 21 to that section will free up space on the wing for Kravtsov…who has been a healthy starter in the last three games. and this record, played in all of them. 10 games this season and four of 16 since Nov. 10.

There is no way to know what Kravtsov is or what he could be. The man never plays. It’s almost as if his career has stalled even if it never started.

Do you know what Kravtsov looks like? Throwing in a game at the rental trade deadline, No. 74 looks to be just that.

Maybe the Devils, Penguins and Hurricanes will return to action at some point in the winter, but those clubs appear to be separated for three Metro Division playoff bids, all playing .655 or better hockey.

Brandon Saad of the St. Louis Blues slows down Vitaly Kravtsov of the New York Rangers #74 at Madison Square Garden on December 5, 2022 in New York City.
Vitaly Kravtsov has struggled to get on the ice this season, making him a prime candidate for a trade.
Getty Images

That means the Rangers, who are 15-10-5 (.583) and riding a four-game winning streak, are in contention for the wild-card spot for now. They are basically in a six-team race for two spots with the Islanders, Red Wings, Canadiens, Caps and Panthers. There is little breathing room.

This helps explain why Gallant is not experimenting with Kravtsov. He does not believe the 22-year-old, who has scored 6 goals and set up 2 goals in 10 games. The second power play unit is more hearsay than reality, but Kravtsov got a total of 3:45 of ice time with the man advantage. Even Zach Jones took more than 10:00.

It seems clear that Goodrow isn’t going down anytime soon. There is no point in putting Kravtsov on the fourth line in place of Julien Gauthier, whose game has declined recently. But the Rangers could line up Kravtsov in right with Chris Kreider and Vincent Trocheck, moving incumbent Jimmy Vesey to the fourth line in Gauthier’s place.

Vesey played every role assigned to him well. That includes 12 games with Kreider and Zibanejad. But if the Rangers wanted to see Kravtsov, this would be the way to do it.

The New York Rangers celebrate a 4-3 overtime victory over the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden on December 12, 2022 in New York City.
Even after showing signs of recovering from a poor start to the season, the Rangers are in a tight battle with five other teams for the two wild-card spots.
Getty Images

However, there is no suggestion, let alone any urgency, to include Kravtsov in the squad. So the ninth overall pick of the 2018 draft remains a mystery. Can he play? Can it produce? Can he hold up against the NHL? Who knows?

Maybe the Rangers won’t know what they have until it’s gone.

Lost in plain sight

Jakob Trouba picked up two more fouls and fouls on Monday, leading to two straight pucks in the opening 4:46. placed at the gate.

That prompted Gallant (and assistant coach Gord Murphy) to drop Trouba to the third pairing, where he skated with Libor Hajek for most of the game while K’Andre Miller connected with Braden Schneider (the Miller-Trouba pairing was restored). The final 7:00 of the third period cut the team to five D and Hajek sat).

Downsizing, Trouba has been a shadow of his 2021-22 self. He has 20 goals and 27 walks, his team-low 42.55 GF percentage. Maybe it’s an injury. Maybe it’s the weight of the captain. But the Rangers need Trouba to be a reliable and strong presence when he and Miller became the club’s first pairing last season.

Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Cotter (43) skates around New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Las Vegas.
Jacob Trouba’s struggles this season saw him drop to the third defensive pairing after Monday’s win.

Now, despite a 50.65 xGF, the Miller-Trouba duo ranks 23rd out of 24 defensive tandems (300:00-plus) with a 35.29 GF, ahead of only Detroit’s Ben Chiarot-Moritz Seider duo (34.21) .

Miller’s game has picked up, at least in the past week. The game seems to be closing in on him. Number 79 plays with instinct and does not force an attack. But his strides forward were often negated by Trouba’s problems.

It should have been difficult to determine the top six ahead. Wasn’t the best back four. Until Trouba stabilizes his game, this will remain a major problem.


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