Vitaly Krautsov has won a majority of right-wing representatives on the line with Philip Chital and Barclays Godrow through Rangers training camp, but Julian Guthrie took a look at the Devils in a pre-season loss on Friday night.
However, when Kravtsov was ruled out of the rest of the game after the first period with a minor injury, all eyes were suddenly on Guthrie.
After a 7-1 defeat at Prudential Center, Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said he did not believe Krautsov’s injury was serious or long-term. But if that turns out to be the case, Guthrie, 23, has some clues as to why he can be considered the “next man” in the Rangers lineup.
“I can’t say anyone was good when you. [give up] Seven goals and you get only one. “But baby Gutierrez was probably one of the best players on our team tonight.”
Gutierrez, who was often a healthy scratch and limited to just 30 games last season, added another element of physicality to the line with Chital and Gudro. As he usually does, Gutierrez used his 6-foot-4 frame to run on the net and create some havoc.
Despite the uncertainty around the right-hand side of their line, Chattel and Gudru have shown signs of emerging chemistry. There was a drama in which Gadrow, who in the first round registered an assistant on Mika Zebnizad’s power play goal, sent a fast cross-ice pass to Chattel through the crease. The pick was removed before the check was shot.
It will definitely take time for Chital and Gudru to get to know each other on the ice, but there were plenty of encouraging signs on Friday that the two could complement each other well.
“It’s not the end we wanted with the score, but we had a good look,” Guthrie said of his line. “[I had] One or two with Phil, one or two drives on the net, I feel like the chemistry wasn’t bad for our first game.
After a hot start to the red last season, Chital suffered a hand injury that he recently revealed was well-delayed after returning to the ice. With the exception of the 10-day period on the Cowboys 19 list, Chital was eliminated from 14 consecutive games and never regained the explosive game he started the season with.
The hand injury affected his ability to take off his face, which has long been a problem for Rangers. The Blue Shirts have eliminated the NHL’s winning percentage from last to second in the last three seasons, the highest in the league at 44.5 percent last season.
Gaddafi won 50% of his faces for Lightning last season, more than any full-time Rangers player. Asked if he expects Gudru to take on too many faces for his line, Gallant said he expects Chital to get better, but Gudru will step up from time to time.
“Now, if there are some big faces and we think Gudro can do better, he can go in and take some,” Gallant said Friday morning. “Not just for Chital, but for a different boy. It’s our team’s make-up but you want to trust your center man. It’s not okay but it’s a new year.
The idea of moving Chytil to the wing has been tossed around and Czech said he would play wherever he put Gallant, but he announced his preference to stay in the middle. Now, Chattel has a chance to reinforce the reshaped third line with a strong Gudru.