The Blueshirt faithful who fill the seats at Madison Square Garden have a short list of players whose names they chant on a regular basis, but on Monday night, a new name reverberated throughout the concourses.
“CHY-TIL! CHY-TIL! CHY-TIL!”
Filip Chytil picked up right where he left off before the All-Star break, extending his scoring streak to four games with goals Nos. 17 and 18 in the Rangers’ 5-4 overtime win against the Flames. The impending restricted free agent’s price tag just keeps on going up as he continues to morph into an everyday impact player.
“I always want to play with confidence, but now, of course, when we play like this as a whole line and when we’re creating a lot of chances, it helps me personally to do what I do,” Chytil told The Post after the win, which his linemate, Alexis Lafreniere, secured with a goal 1:37 into the extra period. “Now, we’re playing good hockey. All three guys playing with confidence and that’s a lot of fun.”
Taking a pass off the boards from Kaapo Kakko in the first period, Chytil sniped the puck past Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom to record his 13th point in the last 12 games and put the Rangers up 1-0. Kakko’s assist also established a new career high in points (24) for the Finnish winger, who now has nine goals and 15 assists in 50 games.
Chytil also regained the lead for the Rangers early in the second period, when the Czech center intercepted a pass and buried the puck on a breakaway in a seemingly effortless sequence to secure his third multi-goal game of the season. That’s when the crowd began chanting his name.
“Feels very good,” said Chytil, who added that he wasn’t sure if he was hearing his name at first before Lafreniere assured him he was. “It just motivates me to be better, to be better next shift and show what I can do.”
After an encouraging stint in the American Hockey League while on a two-week conditioning loan, Sammy Blais was thrown right back into the Rangers lineup.
The purpose of the brief minor league assignment was to get Blais some significant playing time during the NHL’s All-Star break and in turn beef up his confidence, which the 26-year-old wing was seemingly able to do by posting four goals in five games for the Wolf Pack. By inserting Blais into the lineup immediately upon his return, the Rangers likely hoped he is able to pick up where he left off in the AHL.
“Just play with as much fun as I had down there,” said Blais, who finished with one blocked shot and three hits in the win. “Be confident and we’ll see what happens.”
Skating in his usual spot on the wing of the fourth line alongside Jake Leschyshyn and Will Cuylle, Blais replaced Julien Gauthier, who had played in the Rangers’ final three games before the layoff after working his way back from a stint on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.