Vitali Kravtsov may have played himself out of the Rangers lineup

Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant mentioned he all the time tells his gamers: “Make me play you. Make me maintain you in the lineup.”

It seems Vitali Kravtsov has fallen quick of that goal not too long ago.

Kravtsov seems to be primed to be a wholesome scratch Wednesday evening in opposition to the Maple Leafs after he had played in 17 straight video games, which is much and away the most he has skated in in a row this season. Part of that is because of his injury-riddled begin to the season, whereas the different half has been teaching choices. The call-up Tuesday of Will Cuylle might edge Kravtsov out of the lineup once more.

“He’s been positive,” Gallant mentioned after follow in Tarrytown on Tuesday. “But once more, he isn’t a fourth-line participant. When Cuylle comes up, whether or not it is Kravy coming out or [Julien] Gauthier coming out, Kravy did OK, he is played OK. But he isn’t constructed for a fourth line. He’s constructed to play in a top-nine place. If we determine that is one thing that is going to shake down tomorrow, then we’ll see. He’s been positive, I want he’d rating extra, I want he’d end extra checks and stuff like that.”

Vitali Kravtsov skates for the Rangers in opposition to the Panthers on Jan, 23.
NHL by way of Getty Images

In the 6-2 win over the Panthers on Monday, Kravtsov skated on the fourth line for the sixth time this season. He has began in the backside six a complete of 13 instances, whereas flanking one of the high two items 14 instances. The season has been a blended 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 is on the third and fourth traces. The Russian wing additionally has been unable to make an affect with the alternatives he has been afforded.

Despite enjoying in these 17 consecutive video games, Kravtsov mentioned he nonetheless feels the identical approach with regard to settling into the way of life of an on a regular basis NHLer.

“It’s for positive higher than the starting of the season, however nonetheless, I would like some extra,” he instructed The Post.

It’s apparent that Kravtsov’s talent set is healthier fitted to a top-six position, or not less than a top-nine position. The play of different younger gamers, resembling Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere, nevertheless, has made it troublesome for Gallant to make room for Kravtsov on the first three traces. Also affecting his time has been the steadiness of guys resembling Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey.

Kravtsov mentioned he does not see himself as a participant who should not be enjoying on one line or needs to be enjoying on one other. Wherever he skates, he mentioned, he simply desires to play the finest hockey he can.

“Just deal with each shift, and simply do not take into consideration the subsequent shift,” he mentioned. “I do not 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 follow on Feb. 5 in preparation for the Flames’ arrival at the Garden the following evening.


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