The New York Rangers have had the last few days to regroup during this season’s Christmas break, and they will not resume play until tomorrow night against the Washington Capitals. Things have started to turn back around for the Blueshirts after a bit of a rough stretch, as they are now a solid 6-4-0 in their last 10 games played.
With things beginning to heat up once again for New York, there are still a few players who need to get back into the groove. Elite play from every member of the lineup was what sparked such a stellar season for the Rangers, and these players must return to form following this short break in order for this success to continue.
Alexis Lafreniere needs to get his breakout campaign back on track
The Rangers’ most surprising player earlier this season was former first-overall draft pick Alexis Lafreniere. The potential breakout candidate this year was expected to be Kaapo Kakko, but it was Lafreniere who began to play at another level. While his performance hasn’t been terrible recently, there is definitely some room to grow.
The two major developments in Lafreniere that shocked fans this season were his strong chemistry on the second line and a spark in his offensive production. He still remains a key member of the top six, meshing perfectly with Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck, but his scoring has taken a steep decline. He’s tallied 18 points in 32 games so far this season, but he’s only recorded four across his last 10 games played. Lafreniere’s strong puck control and defensive abilities have been enough to keep critics away from targeting him, but there does need to be a resurgence in his offensive production in order to keep the “breakout” title alive.
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The Rangers need Lindgren to return to form on the defensive end
When it comes to the Rangers’ defensive corps, Ryan Lindgren is easily one of the best defensive defensemen on the team. Adam Fox will get all the spotlight as an elite two-way defender, but Lindgren has been the rock that keeps pucks out of the net for years.
Over the last few games, Lindgren has been a bit sloppy in the Rangers’ own zone. He did manage to score his second goal of the season recently, but there have been a handful of goals against that can be attributed to Lindgren’s questionable defensive play. He hasn’t been bad by any means, but for a player with such high expectations in New York, there is little room for error in a defensive corps that heavily relies on elite play from Lindgren.