Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant mentioned he all the time tells his gamers: “Make me play you. Make me hold you within the lineup.”
It seems Vitali Kravtsov has fallen wanting that goal just lately.
Kravtsov appears to be like primed to be a wholesome scratch Wednesday evening in opposition to the Maple Leafs after he had performed in 17 straight video games, which is way and away essentially the most he has skated in in a row this season. A part of that is because of his injury-riddled begin to the season, whereas the opposite half has been teaching selections. The decision-up Tuesday of Will Cuylle may edge Kravtsov out of the lineup once more.
“He’s been advantageous,” Gallant mentioned after observe in Tarrytown on Tuesday. “However once more, he’s not a fourth-line participant. When Cuylle comes up, whether or not it’s Kravy popping out or [Julien] Gauthier popping out, Kravy did OK, he’s performed OK. However he’s not constructed for a fourth line. He’s constructed to play in a top-nine place. If we determine that’s one thing that’s going to shake down tomorrow, then we’ll see. He’s been advantageous, I want he’d rating extra, I want he’d end extra checks and stuff like that.”
Within the 6-2 win over the Panthers on Monday, Kravtsov skated on the fourth line for the sixth time this season. He has began within the backside six a complete of 13 occasions, whereas flanking one of many prime two items 14 occasions. The season has been a combined bag for Kravtsov, who has one aim in his earlier 14 video games and simply six factors in 27 contests.
Kravtsov has had restricted ice time when he’s on the third and fourth traces. The Russian wing additionally has been unable to make an impression with the alternatives he has been afforded.
Regardless of taking part in in these 17 consecutive video games, Kravtsov mentioned he nonetheless feels the identical approach with regard to settling into the life-style of an on a regular basis NHLer.
“It’s for certain higher than the start of the season, however nonetheless, I need some extra,” he instructed The Submit.
It’s apparent that Kravtsov’s ability set is best suited to a top-six position, or a minimum of a top-nine position. The play of different younger gamers, reminiscent of Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere, nonetheless, has made it troublesome for Gallant to make room for Kravtsov on the primary three traces. Additionally affecting his time has been the stability of fellows reminiscent of Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey.
Kravtsov mentioned he doesn’t see himself as a participant who shouldn’t be taking part in on one line or needs to be taking part in on one other. Wherever he skates, he mentioned, he simply needs to play one of the best hockey he can.
“Simply concentrate on each shift, and simply don’t take into consideration the subsequent shift,” he mentioned. “I don’t have that a lot ice time, however it’s what it’s.”
The Rangers will face the Maple Leafs on Wednesday evening in Toronto earlier than they tackle the Golden Knights on Friday of their final matchup earlier than the All-Star break. They’re anticipated to return to observe on Feb. 5 in preparation for the Flames’ arrival on the Backyard the next evening.