The New York Rangers ended their four-game losing streak Sunday afternoon with a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals. It was an overall elite performance by the Blueshirts, but the main storyline moving forward is the return of Kaapo Kakko from the LTIR. Despite not recording a point, Kakko looked solid in his first game in nearly two months following a gruesome lower-body injury.
Kakko earned top-line minutes in his return to the Rangers
Before his injury, Kakko started the season on the first line. His lack of offensive production quickly resulted in a demotion to the bottom six, but Peter Laviolette opted to give Kakko a second shot on the top line in his first game back with the Rangers.
Although he didn’t record a point yesterday afternoon, Kakko still provided multiple scoring chances for the Blueshirts. Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider were both struggling during his first stint in the top six, so there is hope that Kakko can finally generate some offensive production now that his two linemates have heated up. If he can quickly develop into a reliable winger, the Rangers will no longer have to trade for a new top-six forward at this season’s trade deadline.
[su_posts template=”templates/list-loop.php” posts_per_page=”3″ tax_term=”1636893″ offset=”1″ order=”desc”]
Kakko “felt good” during his debut
Per Mollie Walker of The New York Post, Kakko “felt good” during his return to the Rangers. There was concern that he would need time to readjust after such a long absence from playing, but those worries can be put to rest after a solid performance.
“It felt good. Of course, I knew it was going to be more ice time [than] I got before I got hurt. That was a good thing. I was happy about that. Good win, also. So hopefully next game I can keep playing with those guys and get better also.Kaapo Kakko via Mollie Walker
It’s good to see Kakko feeling well following his return. The Rangers have seen many players take time off due to injury this season, and not all of them have returned at the top of their game. Yesterday’s performance is a good sign that there are many more elite games down the line from Kakko for the remainder of the season.