DETROIT — Rookies and best buddies Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil got to play on the same line at the NHL level for the first time on Friday night when Rangers coach David Quinn put them on the fourth line with rookie Vinni Lettieri.
The three were together at Thursday’s practice, though Andersson, 20, was at center and Chytil, 19, was at left wing. On Friday, Andersson started on the wing.
“I just think Lias has a little bit more of the ability to play wing, and I think Fil is just — it gives him a little more freedom in the middle,’’ Quinn said of the decision to change.
Quinn said both played well in Tuesday’s 5-3 win over Montreal, and he got a kick out of putting them together with Lettieri, 23.
“I think that line will have a little bit of a pace to it, a little bit of an edge, and it’ll be fun to watch three young players play together,’’ he said.
With two defensemen (Fredrik Claesson, upper body, and Adam McQuaid, lower body) on injured reserve, Andersson, who was called up Monday from Hartford, was able to fit into the 23-man roster without anyone on the current roster having to be sent down. Claesson is close to returning, Quinn said, but McQuaid is not.
When Claesson and McQuaid are healthy, will the Rangers still keep eight defensemen and send a forward down? Or will they change the makeup to 14 forwards and seven defensemen?
“That’s a conversation that Jeff [Gorton, the general manager] and I will have,’’ Quinn said.
One thing Quinn made clear: Anderson is not assured of staying with the Rangers for the rest of the season. Nor is Chytil.
“No, I don’t think anyone that’s 19 [or 20] is here for the duration,’’ he said. “I think guys have got to play well to be here, for sure, especially the young guys.’’