Peter Laviolette’s line-blender:
Trailing 2-0 after one, Laviolette shook things up. He ripped into his group and changed the lines, waking everyone up. It’s not just the players; the new coach has been a critical player in the Rangers’ strong start. You could feel the change in the air after tongue-lashing in the locker room and some line-blending magic.
With the team being the best in the NHL, Laviolette had yet to make many lineup changes, but the slow start in Nashville and the absence of Chytil and Kakko gave him a reason to mix it up.
The top line was first on the chopping block, especially Zibanejad, who, despite a five-game point streak, needed to hit the mark regarding quality scoring chances. Laviolette broke them up, moving Zibanejad between Panarin and Lafrenière, the dynamic duo leading the team in 5v5 points.
The new trio faced a few challenges in Nashville, but sometimes, you must let things marinate. Meanwhile, the Kreider-Trocheck-Brodzinski line stole the spotlight, driving the comeback effort in Saturday’s win. Speed was the name of their game, pushing back against the Predators’ aggression with a 6-1 shot advantage and a dominating 76.01% expected goals for.
Wheeler was in the bottom six with Jimmy Vesey and Barclay Goodrow, while the final revamped line featured Will Cuylle, Nick Bonino, and Tyler Pitlick. Laviolette’s moves paid off, showing why he’s earned back-back coach of the month honors.