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After a worldwide pandemic shutdown the National Hockey League on March 12th, hockey has finally returned. As we inch closer to the Stanley Cup qualifying rounds, let’s look at three New York Rangers who benefited from the hiatus and look to be better than ever for hockey’s return.

Kaapo Kakko

After struggling in his rookie season, Kaapo Kakko took this long break as an opportunity to better himself as a player. He’s gotten much stronger and smarter on the ice according to coaches and reporters who attended training camp. The young winger treated the break as an offseason and now looks at this return as a new season and a fresh start for him.

He also showed major improvement in an exhibition game against the New York Islanders on July twenty ninth. The former second over all pick in 2019 skated well and showed a shoot first mentality which he lacked in previous games and it cost him. Kaapo Kakko is definitely a player to watch during these playoffs. There’s no doubt the pause was beneficial to the young Finnish winger.

Jacob Trouba

Another player who struggled during the regular season is Jacob Trouba. He struggled with finding his identity on a completely new team with a completely new defensive system to play for only putting up twenty seven points in seventy games while going a minus twelve.

However during the break and towards the end of the year, he’s starting to find his game with his new team. He claims that he feels more comfortable with the group and that he’s slowly but surely finding his game again. He’s also no stranger to playoff hockey as he played in the postseason the last two seasons with the Winnipeg Jets of the Western Conference. Jacob Trouba is definitely a player who took the hiatus as a an opportunity to get back to his prime form.

Chris Kreider

After signing a huge seven year six and half million dollar AAV extension deal on the trade deadline, Chris Kreider broke his foot after blocking a shot in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. However, he’s taken this time off as a healing opportunity. Now, the speedy left winger is completely healthy and ready for hockey. The 29 year old power house was one of the Rangers top offensive producers this year scoring twenty four goals and forty five points in sixty three games played. 

He’s also got loads of playoff experience under his belt as he’s been on the Rangers for nine seasons after being drafted by the team in 2009. Chris Kreider is definitely looking back on the pause as a positive opportunity to heal and get ready for some important New York Rangers hockey.

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