The New York Rangers Kid Line coming of age
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By Neil Becker
These playoffs have been a real coming out party for the New York Rangers ‘Kid Line.’
Playing a major role in the Rangers post-season success has been the team’s third line consisting of three former first round draft choices in 22 year-old Filip Chytil, 20 year-old Alexis Lafreniere and 21 year-old Kaapo Kakko.
This line, which was put together late in the regular season has given Rangers fans plenty to get excited about in regards to not only the present playoff run, but also for years to come.
Showing absolutely no intimidation or nervousness in playing the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning in the best of seven Eastern Conference Finals, this line continues to produce offence while getting rave reviews from Rangers coach Gerrard Gallant.
On Wednesday, June 1st. in front of a packed Madison Square Garden, this line simply dominated as they combined for five points in helping the Rangers win the Eastern Conference finals series opener by a 6-2 score against the Lightning.
The Rangers, who needed seven full games to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening playoff round followed in round two by another seven games in beating the Carolina Hurricanes, had never held a series lead until now.
Chytil, who centers the Kid Line, scored two goals including the eventual game winner while Lafreniere registered two assists and Kakko who had several great chances drew an assist.
During the season Chytil had an ordinary campaign which saw him produce 8 goals and 22 points in 67 games. So far in the playoffs, this 2017 21st overall Rangers selection has scored 7 goals and two assist for 9 points thus far in 16 playoff games.
Lafreniere, who was selected by the Rangers 1st overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft is coming off a breakthrough sophomore campaign which saw him score 19 goals and 31 points along with 37 penalty minutes in 79 games played.
In post-season this left winger has shown the willingness to play physical and block shots while scoring 2 goals and 9 points in 16 games. This projected superstar like his line-mates just keep on getting better and better each game.
Kakko, who the Rangers drafted 2nd overall in the 2019 draft, battled injuries as he played only 43 games where he scored 7 goals and 18 points along with an impressive +/- of a +9.
So far this spring Kakko has scored 2 goals and 5 assist in 16 games while like his line-mates playing some strong defence.
Continuing to spark the Rangers, the Kid Line were also dominant in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Kakko got Madison Square Garden loud when in the first period he scored his second goal of the playoffs which put New York ahead to stay at 2-1 of what ended up to be a 3-2 Rangers win.
Not only can this line provide offence but they also bring size and physicality. Lafreniere stands at 6 foot 2 inches and weighs 193 pounds while Kakko is 6 foot 3 inches and 199 pounds followed by Chytil who stands at 6 foot 3 inches and 210 pounds.
Obviously this line has picked the right time of year to play its best hockey. This is also good news for the Rangers chances because it makes them more of a well rounded team and takes pressure off the big guns such as Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and defenceman Adam Fox.
All those players have been producing as the Rangers who have had exceptional goaltending from Igor Shesterkin are only two wins away from a berth in the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals.
Looking back to the Kids Line five point output in the Eastern Conference Finals series opener, don’t forget they produced offence against one of the best goaltenders in 2019 Vezina Trophy winner and two time Stanley Cup winner Andrei Vasilevskiy.
This is a special time for Rangers fans who are embracing these youngsters and with elite goaltending and a balanced lineup have a great chance to accomplish something they haven’t done since 1994 which is win the Stanley Cup.