Rangers’ Kaapo Kakko mysteriously scratched in Game 6 loss

Rangers’ Kaapo Kakko mysteriously scratched in Game 6 loss

TAMPA, Fla. — Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant famous, simply earlier than his staff’s season ended with a 2-1 loss to the Lightning in Recreation 6 of the Japanese Convention Remaining, that there’s a wonderful line to stroll when contemplating lineup modifications at this level within the postseason.However Gallant made some important changes on Saturday at Amalie Enviornment.

Kaapo Kakko was scratched for the primary time this season, with Dryden Hunt drawing into the lineup for the primary time since Recreation 3 of the primary spherical towards the Penguins.

“I’m not gonna discuss it,” Gallant mentioned sternly, after he additionally declined to inform ESPN’s rinkside reporter, Emily Kaplan, the explanation for the change throughout a midgame interview. “Tonight’s not the time.”

The choice to scratch Kakko, who was the Rangers’ second-overall decide in 2019, was peculiar, particularly since Ryan Strome was clearly enjoying via the lower-body harm that pressured him to go away halfway via Recreation 3 and sidelined him in Recreation 4.

Kaapo KakkoGetty Photos

Strome left in the course of warmups earlier than Recreation 6, then returned and ultimately suited up. He then stayed within the locker room after the second interval. If Kakko was wholesome, going with Hunt and an injured Strome over the Finnish winger was a head-scratching selection.

But when Strome was adamant that he was good to go, it will have been troublesome to inform a participant who’s an integral a part of the management core that he wasn’t going to play. Strome is ready to change into an unrestricted free agent and will have performed his final recreation in a Rangers jersey.

Alexis Lafreniere was bumped to the left wing of the highest line, subsequent to Mika Zibanejad and Frank Vatrano. Chris Kreider was dropped to flank the third line, alongside Filip Chytil and Barclay Goodrow. The second line of Artemi Panarin, Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp remained intact, and the fourth line consisted of Tyler Motte, Kevin Rooney and Hunt.However Gallant then reverted to the same old line combos that the Rangers have used for a majority of the season early within the second interval.

“I don’t suppose the road combos or something like that’s going to be the distinction,” Copp mentioned earlier than the loss. “It’s only a matter of our mentality and our desperation and the way nicely we’re enjoying.”

Lightning heart Brayden Level didn’t play regardless of being thought-about a game-time resolution for the primary time since sustaining a lower-body harm in Recreation 7 of the primary spherical towards the Maple Leafs

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