Blue Line Shake-Up: Peter Laviolette’s Training Camp Surprise

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 21: Adam Fox #23 and K'Andre Miller #79 of the New York Rangers react after the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on March 21, 2023 in New York City. The Hurricanes won 3-2. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 21: Adam Fox #23 and K'Andre Miller #79 of the New York Rangers react after the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on March 21, 2023 in New York City. The Hurricanes won 3-2. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Discover how the New York Rangers training camp kicks off with a twist as Peter Laviolette shakes up the forward and defensive combinations.

Peter Laviolette isn’t planning to play favorites on the New York Rangers. Whether you’re Artemi Panarin or Tyler Pitlick, you’re in for the same ride on the hockey rollercoaster known as the Rangers Way.

But hold on to your pucks because Laviolette doesn’t mess around. When asked about a player who likes to hang out on the perimeter instead of getting in on the forecheck, he said, “That guy will forecheck!” You heard it here, folks, no puck-dodging allowed in Laviolette’s world.

Laviolette’s Vision: Tenacity, Speed, and Attitude:

Regarding lineups, Laviolette rolled out his deck of cards at practice. While these lines will be shuffled around during the season, these could be the lines we see on opening night in Buffalo. Get ready for some chemistry magic!

Here are the forward combinations: 

Kreider – Zibanejad – Lafreniere

– Panarin – Chytil – Wheeler

– Goodrow – Trocheck – Kakko

– Vesey – Bonino – Pitlick

Yep, you read that right. Artemi Panarin, Filip Chytil, and Blake Wheeler are on the same line. That’s like putting together the Avengers of offense!

And Chytil, coming off a career-high 45 points, is ready to show what he’s made of. He’s got the goal-scoring itch, and he’s been working on his shot all summer. Confidence? Chytil’s bursting with it. “I know what I can do,” the 24-year-old said. “I know I can score goals. I had a lot of chances and didn’t score many of them, as well, but I still scored 20 goals. I worked all summer on my shot and scoring. I believe it was just a good start for me last year, but I need to build on that and be better. I have big confidence in myself and my abilities.”

Now, Laviolette isn’t messing around with practice, either. He’s all about watching the guys compete for their spots. And let’s not forget the importance of a “checking line” in his playbook. You need those gritty forwards who aren’t afraid to dig out the puck, backcheck, and throw a hit or two. Barclay Goodrow, Vincent Trocheck, and Kaapo Kakko are the grit squad here.

“I’ve had lines that have had specific defensive responsibilities,” Laviolette said. “I think that they become valuable. If you can find a line like that, they can get you out of your defensive zone against other team’s top lines. I think that’s a benefit to your team.”

Adam Fox and K’Andre Miller: A Potential Dynamic Duo in the Making:

For the past three seasons, it’s been like clockwork – Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren forming one dynamite duo, and K’Andre Miller alongside Jacob Trouba making magic. They’ve been like peanut butter and jelly, rarely separated unless injury stepped in.

On Friday, we saw a little mix-up. Fox and Miller were paired up, and Lindgren teamed up with Trouba. Now, why mess with success? After all, Fox has been a Norris Trophy contender, finishing in the top five the past three seasons. And Lindgren has been his trusty sidekick. Yet, sometimes, you’ve got to shake things up, right?

As Trouba said, “You kind of get stuck in habits one way when you play with someone for so long.” It’s like eating pizza every day; even if it’s your favorite, a little variety won’t hurt. Fox himself admits there’s something special about his chemistry with Lindgren. “There’s a great sense of comfort when I’m with Lindy,” he said. “But again, that’s what camp is for. Me and Key know each other pretty well, too, but you have to get those reps in.”

Speaking of Miller, he and Fox combined for a whopping 115 points last season. And their 56.08% xGF shows they’ve got the potential to be a dynamic duo.

Conversely, Lindgren and Trouba bring a different flavor. They’re a hard-hitting pair who love shutting down opponents. And that might be what Coach Laviolette wants.

Laviolette said, “I don’t disagree with the philosophy of having a good, anchoring defensive defenseman with somebody who pushes a little bit more offense.” It’s like having Batman and Robin – one’s the muscle, and the other’s the brains (or, in this case, offense).

The lineup isn’t set in stone, and Laviolette just wanted to see how things played out. However, what’s clear is that he’s all about “tenacity and speed and attitude.” And boy, did he get that at Friday’s practice. “I thought it was really, really crisp,” he said. “The pace was good… Now we’ve got to keep that pace – stay up at that level.”

Laviolette wants to stamp his mark on this team and is off to a running start. Trouba said, “The attitude he brings, the energy, the enthusiasm – I think there’s a little direction.”

So, Rangers fans, buckle up for a season where speed and attitude are the name of the game. Laviolette’s setting the tone, and it’s full speed ahead for the Blueshirts!