Last night, the New York Rangers concluded their fourth preseason matchup of 2023-24. With a record of 1-3, the Rangers only have two games left before the regular season begins. Both the roster and line combinations will be set soon as opening night is just around the corner.
So far, the preseason has been somewhat underwhelming for the Blueshirts. They only have one win, and some of their regular NHL players have been disappointing. Alexis Lafreniere only has one assist through three games played, a statistic that has upset many fans.
Lafreniere only has one point in three preseason games
Last night, Lafreniere was credited with a primary assist on Barclay Goodrow’s goal, officially putting him on the scoresheet for the first time this preseason. Lafreniere has received top-six minutes in each preseason game he’s appeared in, and although he’s played with some of the Rangers’ best forwards, he’s yet to find the back of the net himself.
Lafreniere has a lot to prove this season as he begins the first year of his short-term bridge deal. Since being drafted first overall in 2020, the Quebec native has only tallied 91 points in 216 games, with his career-high total coming last year — a mediocre 39 points.
There is an extreme level of pressure on Lafreniere’s shoulders this season as he tries to prove his abilities to the Rangers. A transition to right wing has brought him a significant increase in playing time, but there has been little point production since the change.
Although it is only preseason, Lafreniere will need to find his groove early on this season. It will become hard to justify Lafreniere’s playing time if he does not begin to produce points while playing with some of the Rangers’ top stars.
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Are Rangers fans being overly critical of Lafreniere so far?
Despite only tallying one assist in three games, it’s important to remember that it is still only preseason. The main objective here is for prospects to show their development to the Rangers, while the NHL regulars are mainly there to simply stretch their legs before opening night. Lafreniere isn’t out on the ice to run the show, but to prepare himself for the 2023-24 campaign.
Having only one point in three games is disappointing, but Lafreniere has shined in other areas of the game so far. He’s been credited with an abundance of takeaways in each game he’s played in, showing improved defensive skills and puck awareness. He appears to be more confident with the puck, meaning points should soon follow.
Lafreniere has never been put in a position to succeed like other young NHL stars have. He began his career buried in the bottom six and was forced to play with outdated and unnecessary tactics brought by poor coaching.
With Peter Laviolette bringing in a new era of hockey, Lafreniere should have the tools necessary to find success. Once the regular season begins, it’s likely that Lafreniere will begin to score. Rather than jumping to label Lafreniere as a bust, it’s important to acknowledge the true purpose of the preseason and allow Lafreniere to find his game naturally.