It’s the dots.
Substituting Brett Howden for Filip Chytil as center on the Rangers’ second power-play unit was among the most dramatic changes directed by David Quinn in Saturday night’s 5-0 victory over the Islanders.
Howden, who got a total of 20:17 on the power play last year (but 90:19 the previous year as a rookie), played 3:48 with the man-advantage while Chytil scooped up only three seconds of time on the night.
“A big part of that is faceoffs and we’ve talked to Filip about it,” the coach said following Monday’s practice. “It’s hard when you’ve got your center out there and you’re losing all those draws. He’s getting better at it, so, Fil Chytil will be back on the power play, as will Kaapo [Kakko].
“This is a short-term thing, Fil’s been doing a great job working on his faceoffs and you might see him in there [Tuesday] night.”
Chytil, who had a 38.4 percent success rate at the dots both last season and for his career, went 1-6 on opening night before winning three of eight Saturday. Howden, 48.2 percent last year and 48.3 for his career, went 7-4 on Thursday before a 6-7 night in Game Two.
Kakko also got only three seconds with the man-advantage on Saturday as Quinn went with Brendan Lemieux in that spot to team with fellow straight-liner Howden.
Quinn also flipped Pavel Buchnevich and Ryan Strome on the club’s late third period four-minute advantage, moving the Russian winger onto the first unit while the center skated on the second power-play unit. That was done to enhance Buchnevich’s chance at recording a hat trick, but it is also something the Blueshirts could come back to at some point.
“That’s certainly on the table. Buch has continued to move forward and play at a level we all know he’s capable of,” Quinn said. “But with that being said, I like both units. Last year we had the seventh best power play in the league, but certainly the way guys play, switching guys out, we’re fortunate to have a bunch of power-play guys.
“But you could [make that switch]. That’s certainly something that’s on the table.”
This, too: The Rangers’ second power-play unit was designed to include Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba on the points with Alexis Lafreniere and two other forwards up front. But Fox moved up to the first unit Saturday in Tony DeAngelo’s absence, leaving the second unit with four forwards. That will be the circumstance against New Jersey as No. 77 is destined to sit again.
Kevin Rooney, who missed Saturday’s game with an undisclosed upper-body injury after being clobbered in open-ice by Ross Johnston in the opener, skated with the taxi squad prior to Monday’s main practice.
Alex Georgiev, who was technically strong and economical in his 23-save shutout Saturday, will get the starting assignment against the Devils.
According to Naturalstattrick.com, the Rangers did not surrender a single high-danger chance on Saturday after yielding 13 in the opener. Per the website, that represents the first time the Blueshirts had not allowed a high-danger chance since Feb. 28, 2017, when the team nevertheless conspired to lose 4-1 to the Caps. It marked the 10th time in the 13-plus seasons the website has been tracking NHL games that the Blueshirts registered a zero in that column.