Rangers center Filip Chytil (72) is congratulated after scoring the winning goal against the Dallas Stars on Nov. 19, 2018, at Madison Square Garden.

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Hartnett: Confidence Running High For Chytil As Rangers Keep Rolling

Rookie Scores Game-Winner, Extends Goals Streak To 4 Games

Sean Hartnett
November 20, 2018 - 9:33 am
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The Rangers are one of the NHL’s hottest teams after going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. On Monday, surging rookie center Filip Chytil scored the game-winning goal to propel the Blueshirts to a 2-1 home victory over the Dallas Stars.

Chytil got rewarded for simply getting to the front of the net. The 19-year-old Czech forward has made a habit of getting to prime goal-scoring areas, and his luck has turned around after starting the season with just three points through his first 17 games.

You saw Chytil do a lot of the right things during that stretch and making the most of his occasionally limited minutes.

Now you’re seeing a young forward whose confident play is taking over games. Chytil has recorded a four-game goal streak, the longest by a teenager in team history.

MORE: Hartnett: Rangers Look To Restart Ryan Strome’s Career

“I felt more confident after every game,” Chytil said. “I can’t say the first 17 games, when I didn’t score a goal, that I didn’t have confidence. I was confident. But now after the first goal, it’s more and more. That’s great, and I’m happy that we are winning and I can help the team with goals. I’m trying to play hard and trying to play my game, and I’m very happy that it’s like that.”

It wasn’t long ago that Chytil was in danger of being sent down to AHL Hartford. His ice time was slashed to 9:09 and 8:14 in consecutive road games in Detroit and Columbus in early November. The youngster was pinned to the fourth line, and a strong argument could've been made at the time that his development would be best served by receiving plentiful minutes in Hartford.

One game later, Chytil’s fine play bumped his workload up to 14:08 minutes against the Vancouver Canucks. A power play goal scored in the 2-1 win over the Canucks was the first of his current goal-scoring streak and he’s recorded a goal and skated above 14 minutes per game in each game that followed.

On Monday, Chytil skated on the right wing alongside center Kevin Hayes and left wing Chris Kreider. Though his natural position is center, Chytil gives head coach David Quinn options by having the ability to perform well at center or the wing. Eventually, like Hayes before him, Chytil will eventually pivot from the wing to a full-time centerman role.

Quinn’s Rangers are ahead of schedule at the quarter-way point of the season. Few predicted that this youthful team with a rookie head coach would be sitting in second place in the Metropolitan Division with Thanksgiving approaching. Young talents such as Chyril, Brett Howden and Neal Pionk have blended well with prime-aged Mika Zibanejad, Jimmy Vesey, Kreider and Hayes.

At the moment, the Rangers are flying. This complicates trade scenarios, namely Hayes and Mats Zuccarello, who are on expiring contracts and would fetch sizable returns if the Blueshirts’ brass decides to cash in prior to the Feb. 25 trade deadline.

Eventually, the Rangers will need to decide whether Zuccarello and Hayes are part of the long-term core and debate the merits of extending them versus the probability of receiving valuable draft picks and prospects in return that could aid the rebuilding process.

Right now, the Rangers are an exciting team to watch. Fans don’t want to see this team broken up, and I’d imagine that management is waiting to see how this team progresses in the coming months under Quinn before making any tough calls.

If you’re a Rangers fan, just sit back, relax, enjoy the ride and worry about the hard decisions once the calendar gets closer to February.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @HartnettHockey​.​