PITTSBURGH — Forward Filip Chytil was a healthy scratch for the second time this season Saturday afternoon, missing the Rangers’ 1-0 loss to the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.
It was the second game in a row for which Chytil was in street clothes. Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said Thursday the 22-year-old was under the weather with a non-COVID illness prior the matchup that night with the Capitals at the Garden. Sitting Chytil on Saturday was a coach’s decision, one Gallant said was to keep the lineup the same after the convincing win over Washington.
“He’s fine,” Gallant said after their loss, which dropped the Rangers to 33-14-5. “Just the team played really well the [other] night.”
It’ll be telling if Gallant opts to turn back to Chytil or to stick with either Morgan Barron or Greg McKegg against the Canucks at the Garden on Sunday. Keeping Chytil out of the lineup would only plummet his trade value if that’s the direction the Rangers wish to take.
Barron remained in the Rangers’ lineup in Chytil’s place on Saturday, logging a team-low 7:41 with two hits on the third line next to McKegg and Julien Gauthier. For this game, however, Gallant flipped Barron to the wing and put McKegg in the middle.
“We thought about it and last game Barron started in the middle and it’s just the experience thing,” Gallant said. “Kegger is an experienced guy and we feel with our systems that an experienced guy is better in the middle right now. Barron will be a good centerman down the right, but we like him on the wing, too.”
Since Gallant moved Barclay Goodrow to the line with Kevin Rooney and Ryan Reaves, the coach has used the group more than the third unit of McKegg, Barron and Gauthier. One could even argue that Goodrow, Rooney and Reaves have become the third checking line that the Rangers have been trying to forge all season.
Goodrow, Rooney and Reaves logged 10:16 in the loss, according to Natural Stat Trick, while McKegg, Barron and Gauthier played 6:01 together. The aforementioned numbers are also a testament to the several stretches of four-on-four play, as well as the fact that special teams played a big part in the game.
The Rangers have allowed two goals or fewer in the last seven games and three or fewer in 10 of their last 11.
Defenseman Patrik Nemeth did not accompany the Rangers to Pittsburgh as he was with his wife, Towe, who gave birth to a healthy baby boy.