When Filip Chytil sustained an upper-body injury, which is believed to be a concussion, he was the Rangers’ second-line center, and that group was playing pretty well. In his absence, that line became the life and soul of the Rangers. It’s been a beacon of light for the Rangers in the strong start to the season. So, what does this mean for Chytil when he does get back to the lineup?
Since Chytil sustained the injury in the game at the Garden against the Carolina Hurricanes, Vincent Trocheck has seen two games where he was held off the scoresheet. Those were the two Pennsylvania games at the end of last week in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. To put that into perspective, he has had as many three-point nights on that line as pointless nights. He’s thriving.
In the nine games since Chytil left injured, Trocheck has 12 points in the form of four goals and eight assists. Chytil has played in ten games this season and has six assists. He was playing well, but Trocheck playing at well above a point per game rate on that line with Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere should be argument enough to keep the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native in that role.
You never want to see a player move down the lineup because of injury, but this is the situation we’re in right now. Chytil will have a very difficult time earning back that second-line center spot. I will argue that the Panarin line right now is the first line for the Rangers because the other top six line has not pulled nearly as much of its weight as Trocheck and company.
As for where Chytil slides back into the lineup when he can, that is a really difficult decision. You cannot touch Jimmy Vesey or Tyler Pitlick right now. Taking out Nick Bonino doesn’t make much sense. Sitting Will Cuylle would be psychotic. It’s a good problem to have. The depth playing this well is a good sign, which may be why Chytil has spent so long away from the team. The more time he gets off, the healthier he will get.