Part of the reason Kaapo Kakko has been able to get into an attacking groove lately is that his place in the roster hasn’t changed, the Finland winger said.
When Artemi Panarin, Ryan Strome and Kakko have all been active on the Rangers roster, head coach Gerard Gallant consistently deployed those three in a row together – until the Rangers 4-1 win over the Islanders on Wednesday. evening at the UBS Arena.
Gallant opted to move Kakko alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, while placing Dryden Hunt on the wing of Panarin and Strome.
“We were sort of discussing it as coaches [on Tuesday] and we just sit there sometimes, we have too much free time and we make decisions like that, âhe said after the win, which improved the Rangers to 12-4-3. âWe’re talking about Huntsie’s speed on the front chess and then Kaapo played really well, so it was a combination of things and we’ll see where that takes us tomorrow.
“But I was happy with both [line changes]. Sadly, it was so many penalties that Huntsie didn’t have the time he should have had with these guys and Kaapo didn’t play much either. We were shooting a lot and there was a lot of power play. “
Kakko extended his points streak with five games with an assist on Chris Kreider’s second goal of the night at 11:02 of the third period. Prior to the Rangers’ win on Wednesday, the Panarin-Strome-Kakko line had been on the ice together for seven goals and just three goals against in 153:40 across 13 games, according to Natural Stat Trick.
It might have been a risky decision to break the Rangers’ most consistent line, especially when his success apparently fueled Kakko’s confidence. But Gallant said ahead of the game that he believes the Rangers have another level in them, and experimenting with the lines is certainly a strategy to unlock it.
âI think Mika and I have played with him on and off the last few years, different combinations,â Kreider said of Kakko. âI keep talking on the bench, on the ice, trying to help each other based on what we see, what we read. I think it speeds up this process [of developing chemistry]. “
Goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin got the first header for the Rangers’ inaugural game at UBS Arena on Wednesday night against the Islanders and repelled 20 of the 21 shots he faced.
It was his sixth appearance in the last seven games after relieving substitute Alexandar Georgiev three nights earlier against the Sabers.
When asked how much he puts on a goaltender’s record against opponents when working with Rangers director of goaltending Benoit Allaire, the head coach said no.
âI don’t really care,â said Gallant. “Benny does it, you know, he watches the records from the past and all that.” I’m more worried about this year with what I know about our goalkeepers and the way they play. Shesty was exceptional.