Rangers: Star defenseman has been average since return from injury

New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox (23) passes the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period of game one of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden
Jun 1, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox (23) passes the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period of game one of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers spent almost the entire month of November without their star defenseman Adam Fox. He was taken out with a lower-body injury on November 2nd during a matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes and did not make his return until November 29th against Detroit.

In the four games since Fox’s return, the Blueshirts have gone 4-1 with their only loss coming in their most recent game against Ottawa. These stats are quite deceiving, as the Rangers have certainly not played good hockey over this span. The defensive corps appears to be in shambles, and Fox’s return has not been as impactful as originally hoped. He still has some upsides to his game, but the last four performances have been average at best.

Fox is not making a defensive impact on the ice

Over the last few years, Fox has built up a name for himself as the best defenseman on the Rangers. He and Ryan Lindgren proved to be the best dynamic pairing on the team, which earned them the role of the first pairing for a handful of seasons.

But over the last four games played, Fox has not looked like his usual defensive self. In his first two games back from the LTIR, he earned an even +0 rating on the ice. In his most recent two, both games ended with the star defender at a -1. He hasn’t been hurting the team defensively, but he is also not helping to get the defensive corps out of this slump.

Fox is still one of the best point producers on the Rangers

Whereas Fox’s defensive abilities have seemed to take a brief hiatus on the ice, his offensive abilities have not skipped a beat. His first game back against Detroit has been his only scoreless contest since his return, as he is now riding a three-game streak consisting of five total points- all in the form of assists.

Having Fox contribute in the offensive zone is a great plus, but it’s not what the Rangers need from him right now. He’s always been an elite player on both ends of the ice, but that seems to have changed since he was taken off the LTIR.

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What’s causing this slump from Fox?

After spending practically an entire month on the LTIR, Fox probably needs some time to adjust back to his regular routine. These four games since his return were spread out across just six days, giving him little time to prepare for a proper return.

It’s safe to assume that Fox’s defensive skills will return with time. It’s not that he’s been bad recently, he just hasn’t lived up to the high expectations that he has set for himself over the course of his career.

He’s also not the only defender playing poorly, as the elite corps seems to have fallen apart. Once Rangers HC Peter Laviolette is able to diagnose the problem and begin to sort it out in practice, Fox should rise back to the top as one of the best defensemen in the NHL.