What a distinction a yr makes. Final yr, Vitali Kravtsov was rightfully annoyed, as he was despatched to the AHL whereas inferior forwards (and defensemen) have been slotted in at wing. This yr, after a full season within the KHL and a pandemic, Kravtsov is trying like he belongs. It’s slightly wonderful how that works, getting yet one more yr of improvement for a 21 yr previous Vitali Kravtsov.
Visually, Kravtsov is everywhere in the ice and everywhere in the puck. He’s in on protection, making the appropriate reads and performs. He created the turnover that led to his first
purpose disallowed purpose of his profession. Within the performs above, he pressured the turnover after which shortly moved the puck to start out the frenzy. He was additionally the third man in, which created the prospect for him in open ice. Too dangerous Lindy Ruff challenged it.
What’s wonderful to me is his confidence with the puck. Within the above, he begins the frenzy from his personal purpose line and will get the managed zone entry. He was then a hound on the puck, serving to pressure the turnover and creating extra offensive zone time.
His first level was slightly flukey, however it had the appropriate concept. He received the puck alongside the boards and instantly knew Mika Zibanejad was within the slot. The move was slightly errant, however it created a fortuitous bounce for Brendan Smith.
We do not forget that diving play in his first recreation, the place he virtually scored the sport winner?
All of that is to say that Kravtsov is visibly noticeable in a great way on the ice. What’s even higher is the numbers assist his robust perceived play as nicely. It’s solely been 7 video games, however he’s sporting a 52.86% CF% and a 48.25 xGF%. His xGF% is dragged down by one tough recreation towards the Penguins the place he had an 11.01% xGF%. That was really the sport the Rangers gained 8-4, however have been principally outplayed. All however one different recreation have been above 50%.
He does all this whereas bouncing across the lineup as nicely. When discussing what to anticipate from Kravtsov, we’re getting a little bit of the worst case state of affairs too. He’s getting primarily fourth line time with Brett Howden and Kevin Rooney, however he’s been positive. He’s additionally swapping with Colin Blackwell right here and there. However for essentially the most half, he’s getting fourth line time.
I had talked about I’d be moderately stunned if Kravtsov is will get 10 factors this season. He’s received one help by seven video games. With 15 video games left and Kravtsov spending getting about 10 minutes of TOI per recreation, that looks as if a stretch. He’s nonetheless in line for 5-10 factors, particularly if he begins getting some bounces.
It hasn’t been clean crusing for him, but when he continues on this improvement path, Vitali Kravtsov will likely be a stable contributor for the Rangers. He’s definitely not popping out of the lineup any time quickly.