Rangers: Alexis Lafrenière’s newfound chemistry with Artemi Panarin has been the catalyst for success

New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) and left wing Artemi Panarin (10) celebrate after Panarin scored a goal against the Seattle Kraken during the first period at Climate Pledge Arena
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

After the New York Rangers were swept by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifying Round, they won the lottery to select first overall in the upcoming draft. They selected QMJHL phenom Alexis Lafrenière who was projected to take the league by storm.

Unfortunately, the first-overall pick was held back by many ups and downs in his first three years in the league. But under new head coach Peter Laviolette, Lafrenière’s game has taken major strides in 2023. His chemistry on the second line and his growing confidence have propelled Lafrenière to have a breakout campaign.

Alexis Lafreniere’s chemistry with Artemi Panarin on the Rangers’ second line has led to profound success

Through the first three years of his young NHL career, Lafrenière has been suffocated in a third-line role. Sure, the Kid Line of Kakko, Chytil, and Lafrenière played great, but they didn’t get many opportunities to develop into more prominent roles.

During training camp, Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette made sure to staple Lafrenière to Panarin’s line and never looked back.

Since joining Artemi Panarin’s off-wing, Lafrenière has seen an uptick in goals (18), assists (21), points (39), and shots on goal (166). The 22-year-old has also created 167 individual scoring chances (a career-high) and 74 individual high-danger chances (also a career-high).

His points aren’t the only facet of his game that has seen improvement. Lafrenière’s play-driving, passing, and IQ have also seemed to have gotten better since joining Panarin on the Rangers’ second line:

While Panarin didn’t convert on this beautiful Lafrenière pass, it shows the improvements Lafrenière has made. He keeps his head up the entire time to partially freeze Elvis Merzlikins to find Panarin backdoor. Unfortunately, Merzlikins made an unreal post-to-post safe to keep it out.

These royal road passes have also been more frequent between the two. Lafrenière’s willingness to make long east-to-west passes through the middle of the ice is fairly new to the former first-overall pick, but his chemistry with Artemi Panarin makes it all the easier.

La confiance est la clé

From November 24th to December 12th Alexis Lafrenière went 12 games without scoring a goal. Lafrenière would’ve been benched or demoted from the second line under his previous two head coaches, but Laviolette has handled this situation perfectly.

Amidst this struggle, Rangers HC Peter Laviolette had this to say:

“I think (Lafreniere) is working hard. I really believe in him and the way he plays the game right now. I believe in that line. They’ve done good things consistently the entire year to this point. For me, it’s just a matter of time.”

via Dane Walsh of Forever Blueshirts

In the 33 games since breaking out of that slump, Lafrenière has put up 10 goals and 13 assists for 23 points.

Peter Laviolette’s consistent confidence in the 22-year-old has allowed him to figure out ways, by himself, to break out of his slumps this season. With Lafrenière’s breakout this season, Rangers fans are clamoring to see how he can build on it for the rest of his career.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: