The Rangers are in Buffalo to play a two-game set with the Sabres on Tuesday and Thursday, but center Filip Chytil returned to New York on Monday to be examined by doctors after leaving Sunday’s game following an open-ice collision with Pittsburgh winger Evan Rodrigues, coach David Quinn said.
Chytil, the third-line center, will not play in Tuesday’s game, Quinn said. He didn’t provide any more information than that but promised to have an update on Chytil’s status on Tuesday.
Chytil, 21, was off to a fast start, recording two goals and an assist in the first five games. He was by far the Rangers’ best center and the driving force on the Rangers’ best line, with wingers Kaapo Kakko and Phillip DiGiuseppe. If the injury causes him to be out for a while, it will create a huge hole.
"If we do lose him for an extended period of time, it is going to be a blow,’’ Quinn said. "But every team in the league is suffering injuries and we’re no different. That’s pro sports. Certainly, it’s the National Hockey League. And we’ve got to have guys pick up the slack if he is out for an extended period of time.’’
Chytil was injured when he was checked by Rodrigues with 10:49 remaining in the second period Sunday, a collision that knocked both players out of the game.
Rodrigues came up limping and went directly to the Penguins’ locker room. He did not return. Chytil stayed on the bench, received treatment and played one more shift before leaving.
Quinn would not say how the Rangers will replace Chytil in the lineup Tuesday. Fourth-line center Brett Howden took Chytil’s place between DiGiuseppe and Kakko on Sunday and would seem the most likely choice to fill that spot Tuesday. But Quinn would not say if losing Chytil might cause some other lines to be reconfigured.
If Chytil is out for a while, the Rangers could dip down to their Hartford farm team to call up a replacement such as Morgan Barron, who was assigned to Hartford from the Rangers’ practice squad last Thursday.
The injury to Chytil comes with the Rangers (1-3-1) in last place in the East Division. Their top two lines — with the exception of right wing Pavel Buchnevich — have underperformed.
No. 1 center Mika Zibanejad, who missed most of training camp because of the coronavirus and missed the end of the game against the Devils after an awkward crash into the boards late in the third period, is seventh on the team in scoring with one goal and one assist.
No. 2 center Ryan Strome scored his first goal (and first point) of the season Sunday. Wing Chris Kreider has a power-play goal and nothing else. No. 1 overall draft pick Alexis Lafreniere is scoreless through the first five games of his NHL career.
Among the top six forwards, only Artemi Panarin (two goals, four assists and a team-leading six points) and Buchnevich (2-2-4) have been productive.
Georgiev to start. Alexandar Georgiev will start in goal Tuesday, Quinn said. Igor Shesterkin started both games in Pittsburgh, losing one in a shootout and one in regulation. Shesterkin, who is facing major expectations after taking over from franchise icon Henrik Lundqvist as the team’s No. 1 goaltender, is 0-2-1 with a 2.98 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage in three starts and one relief appearance. Quinn said the 25-year-old is "frustrated’’ after allowing two stoppable goals in the third period of Sunday’s 3-2 loss.