The Rangers fell to the Flyers last night by a final score of 4-3. However, they have gotten some good news at practice today. Filip Chytil, who has been out with an upper-body injury, returned to practice. He has been out since January 24th, when he played his last game against the Penguins and left early. Chytil had two goals and an assist before going down with the injury. He was then placed on the Rangers COVID-19 list before he was just recently taken off.
Chytil Close To Returning To Lineup
It now seems that he’s getting eagerly close to returning to the lineup, which would be huge news for the Rangers. The Rangers have been hit with a recent injury bug, as well as the news that Artemi Panarin will be missing an undisclosed amount of time. If there was any perfect time for Chytil to return, it would be right now. Chytil can now slot in as the Rangers’ third-line center, behind Mika Zibanejad and Ryan Strome until he gets his footing back.
Before he went down, he was probably the Rangers’ best center. At the time of his injury, both Strome and Zibanejed were struggling to score. Strome now has six goals, and Zibanejad seems to have turned a corner as well. He got the monkey off his back after scoring on Saturday, albeit, an empty-net goal. Regardless, it was important to see him get something as he has had trouble finding the back of the net in recent weeks. Last night, he had his best game of the season and had two assists to two Chris Kreider goals and had a couple of breakaway chances.
Imminent Chytil Return Huge For Offense, Defense
The imminent return of Chytil is going to be big on both sides of the puck. Offensively, he was posting 4.19 goals per 60 minutes of ice time and had a team-best 68.72% expected-goals-for-rate. On the defensive end, the team was only allowing 22.64 shots per 60 at even strength, while averaging 43.01 shots. To say the loss of Chytil was significant would be a huge understatement.
The Rangers’ lack of center depth was exposed, as Brett Howden and Kevin Rooney haven’t been able to fill the void left as the third-line center. In a time where the Rangers’ chances at making the playoffs are increasingly slipping away, Chytil’s imminent return is necessary.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, while Chytil returned to practice, Kaapo Kakko and K’Andre Miller have remained out due to COVID-19 protocols. Their status for Friday’s tilt against the Bruins is doubtful. Chytil’s status is currently unclear as well, though the Rangers are hopeful he returns. Friday’s game might be a lopsided matchup against one of the league’s top teams, however, if he doesn’t return.