Vitali Kravtsov could have performed himself out of Rangers lineup

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

It seems Vitali Kravtsov has fallen in need of that goal lately.

Kravtsov seems primed to be a wholesome scratch Wednesday night time in opposition to the Maple Leafs after he had performed in 17 straight video games, which is much and away essentially 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 opposite half has been teaching choices. The call-up Tuesday of Will Cuylle may edge Kravtsov out of the lineup once more.

“He’s been fine,” Gallant stated after follow in Tarrytown on Tuesday. “But again, he’s not a fourth-line player. When Cuylle comes up, whether it’s Kravy coming out or [Julien] Gauthier coming out, Kravy did OK, he’s played OK. But he’s not built for a fourth line. He’s built to play in a top-nine position. If we decide that’s something that’s going to shake down tomorrow, then we’ll see. He’s been fine, I wish he’d score more, I wish he’d finish more checks and stuff like that.”

Vitali Kravtsov skates for the Rangers in opposition to the Panthers on Jan, 23.NHL through 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 within the backside six a complete of 13 instances, whereas flanking one of many high two items 14 instances. The season has been a combined bag for Kravtsov, who has one objective 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 has additionally been unable to make an affect with the alternatives he has been afforded.

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

“It’s for sure better than the beginning of the season, but still, I want some more,” he informed The Post.

It’s apparent that Kravtsov’s ability set is healthier suited to a top-six function, or not less than a top-nine function. The play of different younger gamers, similar to Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere, nonetheless, has made it tough for Gallant to make room for Kravtsov on the primary three traces. Also affecting his time of him has been the stableness of men similar to Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey.

Kravtsov stated he would 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 stated, he simply needs to play the most effective hockey he can.

“Just focus on every shift, and just don’t think about the next shift,” he stated. “I don’t have that much ice time, but it is what it is.”

The Rangers will face the Maple Leafs on Wednesday night time 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 on the Garden the next night time.

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