Rangers’ ‘Kids’ line gives team hope heading into Game 6

The New York Rangers live to play another day thanks to the fearless play of Alexi Lafreniere, Filip Chytil, and Kappo Kakko, A.K.A. the “Kids” Line.

With the New York Rangers down 2-1 late in the second period, head coach Garrard Gallant put out the line that has been the heartbeat in an otherwise disappointing playoff.

The Kid’s line grinded and battled in the corners, forechecking and refusing to get pushed off of the puck. It resulted in a magnificent pass from kakko to Lafreniere who buried the pass.  The crowd went crazy, the game was tied thanks to the three former first-round picks who have found the chemistry the Blueshirts were missing.

“We believe in our group,” Lafreniere said. ” We were down 3-1 (in the series) but I think we weren’t playing that bad. Played a really good one tonight when we needed it the most, so it was a really good team effort.”

A. late 2-0 deficit turned into a 3-3 2nd intermission tie.  The Ranger knew that has to win the third period in order to get to a game six in Pittsburgh.  The “Kid’s” attitude to play hard against whomever the Penguins put out there at that time was infectious throughout the lineup.

In the third period, Filip Chytil scored his first NHL Playoff goal with the man advanatge.

“It was just some bounce there,” Chytil said. “I don’t even know how it gets to me but probably the whole season I didn’t score many goals (eight in 67 regular-season games), so not thinking too much with the chances, and now I just close my eyes and just shoot and score a goal finally. I was so happy to help the team.”

The Rangers took a 4-3 lead eventually winning the game 5-3. Most importantly they take some momentum with them for Friday’s must-win game.

The Kids Doing Their Job

In five games this postseason, Alexis Lafrenière (2G-2A), Filip Chytil (1G-1A), and Kaapo Kakko (1G-1A) have combined for eight points. Lafreniere scored his second goal of the playoffs, before adding an assist. Lafrenière became the fourth different player in Rangers history to score in consecutive playoff games at age 20 or younger. The others: Don Maloney (3 GP & 2 GP in 1979), Steven Rice (2 GP in 1991), and Mike Allison (2 GP in 1981). Lafrenière has two goals and two assists for four points in five games.

Chyti’sl goal was his fifth career power-play goal and sixth career game-winning tally.

Kakko collected his second career playoff point with an assist, giving him a goal and an assist in his past three games.

Lafreniere played 16:20 on Wednesday night thanks to the team going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.  Lafreniere double shifted in the fourth line alongside Ryan Reaves and Kevin Rooney.

Gallant stood stand fest on not changing his line combinations last night. For last night he was correct n that decision. The Kids finished their checks, drove to the net to cause confusion on the Penguin’s end of the ice, and at the end of it all found a way to give the Rangers another hockey game with a chance for a game seven at MSG on Sunday.

 

Alexis Lafreniere continues to flourish in return to Rangers’ third line

alex lafreniere, rangers

Lafreniere continued his torrid pace in the Rangers’ Sunday victory, scoring an equalizer and assisting on K’Andre Miller’s winner.

No. 13 is slowly turning into the New York Rangers’ lucky number as the Stanley Cup playoffs loom.

Alexis Lafreniere’s scoring surge hit a new height on Sunday evening, as the sophomore pushed his points streak to six games. The 5-4 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres featured Lafreniere’s first multi-point game since Feb. 24: he first put in a second period equalizer that set the tone for the Rangers’ league-best 22nd comeback win of the season, which was sealed through K’Andre Miller’s extra session tally, on which Lafreniere earned the primary assist after Andrew Copp forced a Buffalo turnover.

Miller, Sunday’s hero, was quick to praise not only Lafreniere’s set-up but his strong pace in the second half of the Rangers’ season.

“Laf has been unbelievable this second half. He’s really stepped up and contributed to the team a great amount, so it’s really cool to see and I’m happy for him,” Miller said in video from SNY. “You see it day in and day out, his work ethic in practice when he gets to the rink. He can kind of just flip that switch and do him. It’s nothing crazy, but he’s been really good.”

Though the Rangers (42-19-5) seemed pleased with the progress that Lafreniere, 20, has made in his second season, the active scoring streak has become a form of conventional, traditional improvement that justifies the hype that surrounded him as the top pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Some felt that it was merely an effect of Lafreniere’s inclusion on the top forward line alongside Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad, a run of relative glory ended when head coach Gerard Gallant inserted Copp’s fellow trade deadline newcomer Frank Vatrano into the top line. Vatrano, formerly of the Florida Panthers, has justified the promotion with four goals over his first five games in blue, including two in Sunday’s opening period. Further controversy surrounded Lafreniere when he was relegated to the bench for most of the third period of the Rangers’ disastrous visit to New Jersey on Tuesday.

But Lafreniere is proving that his surge is no fluke in his return to the third line alongside Filip Chytil and Barclay Goodrow. The former has earned assists in each of his last two games, including the primary on Lafreniere’s Sunday goal that stopped a streak of three consecutive Buffalo tallies.

While some saw the push back to the third line as a demotion for the top pick, Lafreniere was happy with such placement, primarily for the fact it situated him back at his traditional spot of left wing.

“It was good to come back to my natural side,” Lafrenière said in video provided by the Rangers. “I can play both sides, and we have so many options in our forward group. I think we’re really deep. So wherever I need to play, I’ll be ready, so it was a good game for everybody…I feel like it’s more natural for me coming back into my own zone. It’s things like that where you always a little late when you aren’t used to it.”

The shift paid immediate dividends: Lafreniere opened scoring in the Rangers’ 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins last Friday, pacing a complete effort that some saw as the team’s best win of the season.

“When we talked the other day, he was fine with it. He was happy, he just wants to go out and play,” Gallant said after Friday’s win, per Larry Brooks of the New York Post. “He was really good. Good line switch.”

Lafreniere’s surge has allowed him to set new infantile career-bests in goals (15) and points (25). The Blueshirts have gone 5-1-0 during Lafreniere’s scoring streak, allowing them to keep pace in the Metropolitan Division’s packed division title race. New York is four points behind Carolina for the top seed (the Hurricanes have a game in hand as well) while they’re also one point behind Pittsburgh for the runner-up spot (though the Penguins have played one more game).

The Rangers’ return to action features another round with the Penguins, as they’ll square off again on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh (7 p.m. ET, MSG).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Rangers continue to win on strength of the young guns

The New York Rangers are having a fantastic road trip as their winning streak hits three consecutive games following Thursday’s 3-1 victory over Nashville.

Winning hockey games can help teams bond. For the New York Rangers, winning hockey has now earned the team three straight wins and points in their last four games (3-0-1).

Head coach Gerard Gallant has been able to find the right line combinations, despite some injuries, the red hot play of goalie Igor Shesterkin has given the Rangers their best start to begin a season (7 points) through five games since the 2009-10 season (8 points).

Thursday night’s lineup was constructed differently. With Ryan Strome and Kappo Kakko still unable to play, Gallant decided to put his two top stars together again.

Mika Zibanejad centered Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider. The trio didn’t record any points but played a strong game driving to the net and causing chaos in the Predator’s end.

The Young Guns

The night belonged to the kids.

Gallant put together a second line of Filip Chytil (22 yrs. old) centering Alexis Lafreniere ( 20 yrs. old) and Sammy Blais (25 yrs. old). The three seemed to hit the ice flying and were in the mix for the first two goals. The first-period backhander by Chytil gave the team a 1-0 lead.

The Rangers’ second goal, scored by Lafreniere, was a small glimpse of the potential these kids have. Norris trophy winner Adam Fox intercepted a pass, skated down the right side of the ice, and threaded a needle pass to Blais.

Not to be outdone by his defenseman, Blais then toe dragged the puck as he split two Predator players just in front of the Nashville goaltender, then chipped a pass to his left onto the stick of Lafreniere who proceeded to put the puck into the net.

Shesterkin Wall

Igor Shesterkin had found his groove early on this season. During this three-game winning streak, (wins over Montreal, Toronto, and Nashville) he has stopped 99 of the 102 shot’s he has faced which is good for a .971 save percentage. 

Three goals against made him pretty unbeatable and is another display of how well things are going on this road trip.

Adam Fox

Adam Fox has points in four of five games this season (1G-3A). Since the beginning of last season, Fox’s 51 points are tied with Victor Hedman for the most in the NHL among defensemen.

The kid, just 23-years-old, does everything on the ice for his team. His great speed along with vision across the whole sheet of ice directly lead to the game-winning goal on Thursday night. 

Head coach Gallant has been trying to limit Fox’s minutes, yet he is still averaging 25:25 minutes on ice per game. Gallant will ride this horse until he’s forced to slow down. 

A balance of veteran players and fearless kids is slowly transforming into a winning combination. They play hard in all three zones, for an entire game. No one player is more important than the other, but all know their responsibilities during games.

Now if they can only find an answer to the power-play. 

With the SCF concluded, New York Rangers look towards the NHL Expansion Draft

seattle kraken

Now that the Stanley Cup Finals have concluded, New York Rangers General Manager Chris Drury can look ahead to the Seattle Expansion Draft.

The offseason has officially begun now that the Tampa Bay Lightning have hoisted their second consecutive Stanley Cup. New York Rangers General Manager Chris Drury can now begin the process to build the roster for the 2021-2022 season.

The newest NHL franchise, the Seattle Kraken, will have its expansion draft on July 21st. The draft will be televised live from Seattle at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 in the U.S. and Sportsnet and SN NOW in Canada.

Expansion Draft Process

The Kraken will select one player from each team excluding the Golden Knights for a total of 30 (14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalies.

Current NHL teams can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goalie, under the following conditions.

* All players with no-movement clauses at the time of the draft, and who decline to waive those clauses, must be protected and will be counted toward their team’s applicable protection limits.

* All first- and second-year professionals, and all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection and will not be counted toward protection limits.

In addition, all NHL teams must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the draft:

* One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played in at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.

* Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.

* One goalie who is under contract in 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract immediately prior to 2021-22. If a team elects to make a restricted free agent goalie available to meet this requirement, that goalie must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the team’s protected list (per NHL.com)

Projected Protected List

Based on the rules for the upcoming expansion draft, I’d anticipate the club to choose seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie format. It would look like this;

Forwards Protected

Artemi Panarin (NMC)
Chris Kreider (NMC)
Mika Zibanejad (NMC)
Ryan Strome
Pavel Buchnevich
Filip Chytil
Brett Howden

Defenseman
Jacob Trouba (NMC)
Ryan Lindgren
Libor Hajek

Goalie
Alexandar Georgiev

Currently, the Rangers can not protect Colin Blackwell nor Kevin Rooney as they can not be protected based on the criteria above. This could change if the team re-signs Brett Howden, Julian Gauthier, or Philp Di Giuseppe,  for the purpose of expansion protection, but as of this moment, that has not happened. (Thanks to @StatBoy_Steven for the clarity).

I listed Howden as the seventh forward to be protected as a projection of what the club would do. Howden was a favorite of former coach David Quinn. With the hiring of Gerard Gallant, could there be a change in the team’s perspective of who is or can be productive given a fair opportunity?  If so, they should protect Gauthier instead of Howden.

Defenseman Brendan Smith is an unrestricted free agent. Protected him is not a smart option since he is allowed to sign with any team or club regardless of the Expansion Draft.

Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo is rumored to be on the team’s buyout list, which is not surprising. The club may consider buying out the 25-year-old prior to the expansion draft.

On the blueline the choice of protecting Hajek or Anthony Bitetto is tough, but the Rangers have put a lot of time and effort into Hajek and I don’t see them taking a chance of losing him.

Non Expansion Eligible Players

These players are exempt from the expansion draft include;

Igor Shesterkin
Adam Fox
Kaapo Kakko
K’Andre Miller
Alexis Lafreniere
Vitali Kravtsov
Nils Lundqvist
Yegor Rykov
Morgan Barron
Lauri Pajuniemi
Tarmo Reunanen
Tyler Wall
Zac Jones

A lot of work to compute for Drury where losing just one player could alter the direction the team has strived to achieve. This club can ill-afford to take a step backward following the decision to move on from John Davidson, Jeff Gorton, and Quinn in late May.

 

New head coach Gerard Gallant’s vision of the Rangers must now be matched by GM’s skill

The New York Rangers held press conference on Tuesday introducing new head coach Gerard Gallant, displaying what kind of team Gallant wants to bring to Broadway, but might have had more questions than answers at its conclusion.

The Gerard Gallant era in New York officially began on Tuesday when the media had their first opportunity to hear what the new man behind the bench had to say. In an unsurprisingly voice, the 57 -year old let the NHL and Rangers fans know exactly what he wanted his new team to be known for.

“I want us to be the hardest-working team in the league.”

Work ethic, grit and never being outplayed by the opponent has been the trademark of every team gallant has coached.

Some other interesting takes from yesterdays press conference centered around the younger players on the team along with is acknowledgement that it will take all 23 players on the roster to turn the club into a winning team. when he was discussing the younger member’s of the team Gallant offered a statement of faith and opportunity,

“You give them the opportunity and hope that they take advantage of the opportunity they get. We know we’ve got some very young, talented hockey players on our team. They’re going to get every opportunity.” Gallant went on to say, It’s not going to take 15 guys to win; It’s going to take all 23 guys on the roster.”

Chris Drury Has Difficult Task Ahead

Incase one would be thinking that the hard part for the Rangers GM is over, think again. In order for this transition from David Quinn to Gallant to be successful, Drury will need to immediately look at what he needs to improve and then find a way to that. The laundry list of what to do next includes the NHL expansion Draft, the NHL Draft, and free agency which is scheduled to begin with the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Rangers have some players offensively that will not be touched.  Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Alexis Lafreniere, Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba and  Igor Shesterkin are a few names to be mentioned.  The area where the team needs to improve is at the center position and the level of toughness that was lacking last season.

This team needs to be built from the bottom up. The players that sit on the fence regarding roster spots or remaining a Blueshirt should come as no surprise.

Staying or Shipping Out

Brett Howden, Julien Gauthier, Kevin Rooney, Phillip Di Giuseppe, Libor Hajek are some names I wouldn’t be surprised off of  the roster when training camp begins.

These players are good hockey players, but for one reason or another never found a productive place in the lineup consistently. A lineup that appeared bottom heavy will need to thin out and form into a tough, hard forechecking, reliable third and fourth line for Gallant to lean on. Some of that need is already there with Vitaly Kravtsov and Philip Chytil so the job for Drury does have some sought of outline laid out.

Great teams use a balance of a smart general manager along with intelligent head coaching that know how to push the right buttons at the right time. Gallant can only push the buttons of the 23 players Drury sets up for him.

The puck is once again of the stick of Chris Drury. If the Rangers ever needed a big score from their former captain its going to be over the summer battling hard against the NHL to come away with that big win that should launch this team back into the postseason.

NHL Draft Lottery to be held Wednesday, Rangers have small chance at No.1 pick

The New York Rangers have a minimal chance to get the number overall pick when the NHL holds its Draft Lottery on Wednesday night.

The New York Rangers have all the odds against them when it comes to winning the number one overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

The NHL Draft Lottery will be held on Wednesday night setting up the order for the first 16 selections and can be seen on NBCSN at 7 P.M.

In last year’s Draft Lottery, The Blueshirts won the 2020 lottery and choose Alexis Lafreniere first overall.  In 2019, the Rangers were lucky enough to win the second overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft taking Kakko Kappo.

The Buffalo Sabres, who finished last in the regular-season standings, hold the best odds (16.6 percent) of winning the lottery. The Anaheim Ducks have the second-best odds (12.1 percent). The expansion Seattle Kraken, who begin play next season, has the third-best odds, equal to the New Jersey Devils, who finished with the third-worst record in the regular season.

The Kraken has the same lottery placement as the Vegas Golden Knights ahead of their first season in 2017-18 and is guaranteed to pick no lower than No. 5 in the first round.

The NHL announced on March 23 that two drawings will be held, to determine the top two picks in the draft. Since 2016, the first three selections had been determined by the lottery. The change was made to reduce the likelihood of the team with the worst record dropping in the draft order. That means the Sabres will pick no worse than No. 3 in the 2021 draft (via NHL.Com).

Top Prospects

Owen Power, a defenseman from the University of Michigan, is the top prospect in Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters. William Eklund, a left-wing from Djurgarden in the Swedish Hockey League, is ranked number one in Central Scouting’s final ranking of International skaters.

Odds to win the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery:

1. Buffalo Sabres, 16.6 percent

2. Anaheim Ducks, 12.1 percent

3. Seattle Kraken, 10.3 percent

4. New Jersey Devils, 10.3 percent

5. Columbus Blue Jackets, 8.5 percent

6. Detroit Red Wings, 7.6 percent

7. San Jose Sharks, 6.7 percent

8. Los Angeles Kings, 5.8 percent

9. Vancouver Canucks, 5.4 percent

10. Ottawa Senators, 4.5 percent

11. Arizona Coyotes, 3.1 percent

12. Chicago Blackhawks, 2.7 percent

13. Calgary Flames, 2.2 percent

14. Philadelphia Flyers, 1.8 percent

15. Dallas Stars, 1.4 percent

16. New York Rangers, 1.0 percent
(per NHL.com).

FOCO to release Alexis Lafreniere New York Rangers 1st goal Bobblehead

Foco is releasing an Alexis Lafreniere New York Rangers first goal bobblehead on Wednesday morning.

New York Rangers rookie Alexis Lafreniere celebrated many firsts during the 2021 NHL season which of course included his first NHL goal scored in the team’s 3-2 overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 28.

Foco is releasing a bobblehead to celebrate that historic day with a piece that will look great in any Rangers or NHL fans collection.

A Bobblehead that includes the Broadway Hat

The bobblehead is full of details that will remind fans of the goal that ignited the career of the number one overall pick in the 202 NHL Draft.

Features

  • Portrays Lafreniere seated at his locker, holding the puck from his first goal and overtime game-winner
  • Thematic locker stall backdrop with player nameplate display
  • Raised and carved team logo display on the front of the base
  • Front name display
  • Handcrafted
  • Hand-painted

Measurements

  • Height: Approximately 9 in.
  • ·  Individually numbered out of 360
  • ·  Manufactured by FOCO
  • ·  Officially licensed

The bobblehead will be sold for $50.

The 19-year-old played in all 56 games for the Blueshirts this season scoring 12 goals along with nine assists for 21 points. His confidence began to grow at the mid-point of this season. Lafreniere netted eight goals with 13 points in his final 27 games.

This overtime winner will be a lifelong memory for everyone who purchases this bobblehead.

It can be pre-ordered by clicking this link.

Follow Frank on Twitter @RangerProud

 

New York Rangers lose to the Washington Capitals in a penalty filled game

The secondary story of Wednesday night is that the New York Rangers fell to the Washington Capitals by a score of 4-2.

The main story is the aftermath of the Tom Wilson incident from Monday night. If the NHL was hoping that nothing would happen after just fining Wilson for his actions Monday night, they were sadly mistaken.

The action started right from the face-off as Colin Blackwell, Phil Di Guiseppe, and Kevin Rooney all square off with the Capital’s starting forwards. Brendan Smith later took on Wilson when skated for his first shift. The sides combined for six fights and 72 penalty minutes just over four minutes into the heated contest.

Wilson did not return after the first period. The Capitals reported that Wilson had suffered an upper-body injury.

After all was said and done, both teams racked up 141 penalty minutes.

The New York Rangers fall in a penalty-filled game

Lost in all of the Wilson business is that the Capitals T.J. Oshie returned to play after the passing of his father. Oshie responded by getting a hat-trick in the contest.

Morgan Barron scored his first NHL goal to close the gap to 4-2 after Oshie’s empty netter. Alexis Lafreniere scored the Ranger’s first goal.

Probably due to the high level of emotions that came with this game, the Rangers took quite a few non-fighting penalties.

Pavel Buchnevich received a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct for a cross-check to the head of Anthony Mantha. This came in the second period after Buchnevich took a slashing penalty against Wilson and a high-sticking call against Zdeno Chara late in the first period.

Ryan Strome received a 10-minute misconduct penalty after taking a tripping call.

The Rangers go right back into action on Thursday night when they travel to Boston to take on the Bruins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Rangers Overcome Sluggish Start to Defeat the Sabres

Igor Shesterkin made 36 saves, and the New York Rangers keep pace in the East Division playoff race with a 3-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres.

In the playoff race, the Rangers are still four points behind the Bruins, who defeated the Penguins on Tuesday night. However, the Blueshirts are now just five points behind the New York Islanders, who fell to Washington. The Rangers and Islanders play in a home-and-home series on Thursday and Saturday.

Brendan Smith put the Rangers in front 1-0 at 2:22 of the second period. The Sabres tied the game on a Sam Reinhart goal.

Alexis Lafreniere broke a tie in the third period for the Rangers, who won their third straight to sweep the two-game series.

Mika Zibanejad extended the lead to 3-1 on a power play at 13:49 of the third period.

Ryan Strome picked up two assists in the game, which gave him his 300th career NHL point.

With Zibanejad’s goal, the Rangers are the only NHL team that has five players (Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox, Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich and Ryan Strome) who have recorded at least 44 points in 2020-21.

Lafreniere nets game-winner to help keep the New York Rangers in the playoff race.

Lafreniere talked about his game-winning goal during his post-game interview. “It was a great forecheck by our line. Stromer made a nice pass and I just tried to shoot it as quick as I could and was lucky enough to go in. Great play by my linemates.”

Per the NHL Public Relations, Lafrenière is the fifth teenager who has recorded 10+ goals in a season in Ranger history.

“The fact that we won six games from the Devils and Sabres is no small feat”, head coach David Quinn said in his post-game Zoom conference. “It’s the National Hockey League and it is not easy to beat teams.”

On the Lafreniere goal, Quinn said, “It was important that he scored that goal because of the circumstances. He’s really played well lately. He’s played really well in the last month. People have made a big deal about his stats earlier in the season but he has had a really good rookie year.”

The Rangers have won nine of their last 11 home games and have also earned at least one point in 11 of its last 13 home games.

 

 

The New York Rangers are Finally Getting to see Lafreniere’s Potential

Ever since that New York Rangers ping-pong ball jumped up from the NHL’s lottery machine, people have been waiting for Alexis Lafreniere to show the hockey skills that an overall number one pick should show.

On Thursday night, head coach David Quinn shuffled his lines and put the overall number one pick on the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich. On Friday, that move paid off big dividends as all three players on the line had two points in the 4-1 win over the Flyers. Lafreniere had a goal and an assist for his two points.

After Friday’s game, Quinn talked about the move and Lafreniere’s development. “One of the things I think has happened to him is he understands how to create offense at this level right now better than he did maybe a month ago,”

So what took so long?

The pandemic hindered the young New York Rangers’ development.

Lafreniere got off to a little bit of a slow start to the season, something that is not really anyone’s fault. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic threw a huge monkey wrench into the plans, including the New York Rangers.

Before Lafreniere hit the ice for training camp in January, the last time he skated in a meaningful game was in March of 2020. Those games came in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Good hockey of course, but it is a league for players under 20 years old. It is not the NHL.

The Rangers could have decided to let Lafreniere play in the World Junior Championships in December. Much to the dismay of some Ranger fans and the entire country of Canada, the Rangers decided to have their top draft pick sit the tournament out. It was a move that looked a lot better after the Chicago Blackhawks lost one of their top young players in Kirby Dach before the tournament even started.

All of this meant that Lafreniere had to acclimate himself to the NHL with an abbreviated training camp that included no exhibition games.

Of course, it should have taken him a little longer to get up to speed.

Lafreniere’s progress will more than likely carry over to next season

Lafreniere talked about his progression and development in his post-game Zoom conference Friday night. “I’m making a lot more plays, I think, and I kind of found my game a little bit but still need to get better. That’s what I’ll try to do for the rest of the season.”

Part of the reason that very few think that he will continue to improve quite a bit is that Lafreniere has an excellent work ethic, something that his coach has definitely noticed. “I think his effort has been elevated to an NHL level'” Quinn said Friday night. “I think that’s the biggest thing players have to learn when they get to this level. There’s a whole new definition of hard work, and I think that’s something that he’s embraced and he realizes it, and it’s allowed him to have a lot more success here over the last few weeks.”

After that slow start, Lafreniere now has nine goals and seven assists on the season. As much as playing with Zibanejad and Buchnevich can help development, it will also mean that he should see more ice time. Before the promotion, Lafreniere was on the third line, a line that did not see as much recently as Quinn leaned on his first two lines in an attempt to keep the Rangers firmly in the playoff hunt.

But as the season winds down, the New York Rangers will look for ways to continue to develop Lafreniere and all of their young players so that they will all hit the 2021-22 season in full stride.