Rangers’ Kid Line could be broken up after limited Game 5 time

TAMPA, Fla. — Rangers coach Gerard Gallant acknowledged Friday he could change his team’s look in a do-or-die Game 6 against the Lightning, but it’s worth noting there might not be a Kid Line on Saturday night.

Given the five-on-five numbers shared by Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil both throughout this postseason and in this Eastern Conference Final, breaking up the trio would be surprising, but the Rangers are plainly in need of some kind of spark. Perhaps that would be it.

Until there is a definitive answer to that question — which is to say, until the Rangers hit the ice for warmups on Saturday at Amalie Arena — here is a number worth pondering from Game 5: 7:55. That was the Kid Line’s time on ice at the Garden on Thursday, in a game in which neither team generated much at even strength, in a series in which the Rangers have scored just once on Andrei Vasilevskiy at five-on-five in the last three games.

The Kid Line has neither scored, nor allowed, a goal over that span, but here are some of their numbers, per Natural Stat Trick: 23:10 TOI; nine scoring chances for to six against; three high-danger chances for to three against; and a 48.88 expected goals percentage. In all five games against the Lightning, the Kids have outscored their opponents, 3-0, and have a 58.48 expected goals percentage.

Filip Chytil battles for the puck during the Rangers’ Game 5 loss to the Lightning.
AP

“Again, it was one of those games where there wasn’t a whole lot of ice,” Gallant said when the topic was brought up Friday. “It wasn’t a wide-open game. They didn’t give a lot. We didn’t give a whole lot besides in the second period — I thought we gave them a breakaway and then a couple two-on-ones. Overall, it was a neutral-zone game. It was not a whole lot given up and a lot of blocked shots.

“So they were fine. They were like the rest of our team.”

Gallant did not address whether the Kids will get more time in Game 6, but he’s not wrong in his analysis. Their numbers on Thursday were, like those of the rest of the Rangers’ forward lines, more or less fine, hovering around break-even.

But that is an outlier for the series at large, and for the playoffs as a whole.

And it would certainly be hard to ask the Kid Line to make a stronger case for more playing time than they already have.

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