Kaapo Kakko at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 12, 2024.

Kaapo Kakko at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 12, 2024. Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH — Kaapo Kakko anticipated the question.

Because he’s heard variations of it before.

Sitting at his stall following the Rangers’ hour-long practice Tuesday, the former second overall pick was asked how effective his newly formed top line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider can be, even though when the trio skated together earlier in the season, goals were, to be generous, hard to come by.

“It’s the first line,” Kakko said. “It’s more ice time and we need to be that top line and score some goals.”

The first chance for coach Peter Laviolette to see if his experiment works will come Wednesday at Madison Square Garden when the Rangers play the Blue Jackets — the same Blue Jackets who snapped the Rangers’ 10-game winning streak Sunday.

“We need to reset and go back at it,” Laviolette said.

To that end, Laviolette promoted Kakko to the top line while dropping Jimmy Vesey to the third line with Will Cuylle and Jonny Brodzinski. The second and fourth lines stayed intact, as did the defense pairings. Right wing Alex Belzile and defenseman Zac Jones rotated in, but they likely will be healthy scratches against Columbus.

Kakko has skated with Zibanejad and Kreider for 184 minutes spanning 38 games, according to NaturalStatTrick.com, and analytics show that the line has been effective in generating shots and creating puck possession.

But that has not translated into goals. As a line, the three have scored five goals while being on the ice for two goals against.

So, then, is it incumbent on that line to score?

“This is an opportunity [for] Kaapo,” Laviolette said. “He’s played well. He’s generated some offense and some goals [on the Brodzinski line]. To move him up, it becomes a little bit more responsibility, a little bit more minutes for him.”

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