GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Rangers coach Gerard Gallant has a message for young Filip Chytil:
Be like Mika.
Chytil has missed three straight games, the first with an illness and the next two as a healthy scratch.
Gallant said after practice on Tuesday that the 22-year-old will be back on the ice on Wednesday night against old friend Pavel Buchnevich and the St. Louis Blues at the Garden.
"He's going back in tomorrow," Gallant said. "He's going to be center tomorrow and I just want him to play his game. I mean, go out there . . . If there’s a guy I'd like to see him play like, go out there and play like Mika Zibanejad. You’re lefthanded Mika. Mika plays a complete game: faceoffs, power play, goes out there and does a good job. So go out there, have fun, play hard, compete."
Chytil skated in practice on a line with Greg McKegg and Julien Gauthier. He also practiced with the second power-play unit. The Rangers would like the dynamic Chytil to regain his confidence as the team attempts to recover from a pair of losses over the weekend in which it scored a total of two goals.
"We’ve got to try to produce more," Ryan Strome said after a 5-2 home loss to Vancouver on Sunday, a game in which the Rangers were stymied early by Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko and went into the third period trailing 4-0.
"I think there’s a bunch of guys that are maybe gripping the stick a bit tight right now," said Strome, who scored the Rangers’ second goal. "We’re still in a lot of hockey games and we’re playing good hockey as a team, I think. But obviously to score goals is what we’ve got to do."
Strome tried to put the onus on himself and linemate Artemi Panarin to pick up the scoring pace. But Gallant — who was dealing with a stiff back on Tuesday — said he’s not worried about that duo or the team in general when it comes to scoring.
"Like our team, I think they’re playing pretty good hockey," Gallant said. "Not burying some of their chances. Good to see Stromer bang one in the other night. But, overall, I just I like the way our team is playing as a team and for the most part we're doing the right things. Again, the pucks are going to go in the net. Demko had an outstanding game. I'm sure a lot of teams that played against us with goaltending the way we've had goaltending all year, making the big saves and stealing some games . . . I thought that's what happened the other night. Denko was incredible in the first period, made three or four great saves, and that was the difference for me."
Chytil could be a difference-maker if he plays up to his potential. Or he could enhance his value as a potential chip before the March 21 NHL trade deadline.
In 41 games, Chytil has five goals and seven assists. Last season, in 42 games, he had eight goals and 14 assists.
Notes & quotes: The Rangers called up forward Jonny Brodzinski from AHL Hartford and sent defenseman Zac Jones to Hartford. Jones had played eight of the past nine games. His demotion indicates Patrik Nemeth is ready to return after his wife delivered a baby on Friday.